Once again Shetland has had the wonderful privilege of a visit from a small pod of killer whales.
The orcas were swimming quite close inshore in a bay near Levenwick on Saturday afternoon. I was travelling along the main road south in a bus on an outing with members of the Shetland Horticultural Society, en route to see some inspiring gardens.
As we passed by our attention was drawn to a bevy of sightseers and photographers, grouped in a lay-by above the bay, with their lenses trained on the sea. These people were in no way causing any disturbance to the orcas.
However, the same cannot be said for the yacht which was circling the mammals continuously for a long time. Round and round the yacht steered, following the whales closely as they surfaced and dived.
The boat remained just feet away from the whales causing them, I’m sure, quite a lot of unnecessary stress, as the orcas were presumably trying to feed.
And, I ask, for what purpose was this intrusion? Was it to take a spectacular photograph which could be sent round the world via the web and earn the photographer a large amount of money? Or perhaps to emulate the false “bravado” of presenters on TV who like to be filmed taking “risks” with “dangerous” creatures?
On whale-watching holidays abroad, I believe the more respectful, and legal, distance from which people may view whales in the wild is on a boat positioned at least 20 metres away.
Whatever the intent, I deplore these people’s actions. It displayed their ignorance and complete lack of respect for the orcas.
They were fortunate that these whales were benign. Such risk taking and threatening behaviour towards wildlife, particularly when I believe there were also children aboard the yacht, was insensitive and foolhardy.
I wonder what would have happened had the pod become agitated and decided to capsize the yacht. It’s disappointing to think that some of the next generation is being taught that it is acceptable to harass wild creatures in their natural habitat.