Australian teen could be fined for climbing on whale's back

Posted Sep 26, 2010 by Lynn Curwin
A teenager in Australia could be fined for climbing on the back of a southern right whale; an act which environmental authorities said was reckless and illegal.
A resident of Albany, which is about 400 kilometres south of Perth, saw the boy climbing on the whale about 20 metres from shore on Friday.
Western Australia’s Department of Environment and Conservation has photos taken by the resident and is trying to identify the teen, who could be charged with harassing wildlife.
The whale dived under the surface of the water soon after the youth climbed on its back.
DEC Albany district manager Mike Shephard said southern right whales are not aggressive but the animal could have accidentally killed the boy.
"Southern right whales can reach 18 metres in length and weigh up to 80 tonnes,” The Australian quoted him as saying. “If you are in the way of a tail slap or when it breaches, you are unlikely to survive.”
The Wildlife Conservation Act states that swimmers are to stay at least 30 metres away from whales.