Probation for California Marine biologist who got too close to otters

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A prominent California marine biologist on probation for feeding killer whales in the wild was ordered Wednesday to serve an extra year on probation for being too close to sea otters.

A federal judge also ordered Nancy Black, who runs a popular whale watching tour on Monterey Bay, to pay a $2,000 fine.

Black, who operates Monterey Bay Whale Watch, admitted to violating the conditions of her probation, which required her to remain at least 50 yards away from marine mammals, the Monterey Herald reported.

Black said she was documenting otter pup health in the Monterey harbor when a sea otter and her pup swam near her boat and someone took a picture.

“Harbor otters will come up and lay on a boat or swim right up to you,” she said. “We were not harassing them in any way.”

Black was placed on three-year probation in 2014 after she roped a piece of gray whale blubber and attached it to the side of her boat near a feeding pod of orcas in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Her probation now extends to January 2018.

The marine biologist’s work has appeared on PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet.

Black has also worked with federal agencies on the study of whales, including the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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