Man Fined for Attempting to 'Body Slam' Orca Whale in New Zealand: 'This Is Stupid Behavior'

Man Fined for Attempting to 'Body Slam' Orca Whale in New Zealand: 'This Is Stupid Behavior'

The New Zealand Department of Conservation learned about the incident involving the man and the killer whale from a video posted on social media

  • The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) announced on May 21 that a man had been fined for trying to body slam a whale

  • The incident, which took place earlier this year, was filmed and posted on social media

  • Officials learned about the dangerous encounter after someone reported the social media video to the DOC

A New Zealand man has been fined after attempting to jump on a wild killer whale.

A video of the incident involving a 50-year-old man was posted on Instagram in February. A member of the public saw the clip and reported it to the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), according to a release from the agency.

In the video, filmed in the waters off Devonport, Auckland, in New Zealand, a man standing on the edge of a boat with an orca swimming beside it jumps off the vessel and seemingly tries to land on the nearby whale. After leaping off the boat, the man yells, "I touched it," in reference to one of the orcas, and then asks others on the boat, "Did you get it?" Throughout the footage, other people can be heard cheering and laughing.

<p>Getty</p> A stock photo of an orca whale


A stock photo of an orca whale

The DOC shared the video on its Facebook page on May 21, noting that the footage shows "what appears to be a deliberate effort to touch or 'body slam' the orca." The agency added that the man in the clip "has been slapped with a $600 infringement" because of his actions.

"The incident showed a shocking and stupid attitude to protected marine mammals," the social media post continued, adding, "The man showed reckless disregard for his own safety – and that of the adult male orca with a calf swimming near the vessel."

Related: North Carolina Group Caught on Camera Pulling Black Bear Cubs from Tree to Get Selfie

Hayden Loper, a DOC principal investigation officer, said in the DOC's release that the footage "left us genuinely stunned" and deemed the offender "extremely irresponsible."

"As well as the initial attempt to dive onto the animal, the man stays in the water and then swims toward it again in a second attempt to touch it," Loper stated. "This is stupid behavior and demonstrates a shocking disregard for the welfare of the orca."

<p>Getty</p> A stock photo of a killer whale


A stock photo of a killer whale

The official also noted that the man's actions "could have ended horribly — with either the startled whale being injured, or the man responsible being harmed by the aggravated animal."

According to The Guardian, the orcas involved escaped without injury.

Regardless, the man's decision to get close to the whales was a "clear breach of the Marine Mammals Protection Act," per Loper, which resulted in the fine.

The Marine Mammals Protection Act in New Zealand makes it illegal to disturb, harass, or swim with any marine mammal.

Related: Whale Watchers Stunned by Sighting of 'Super Rare' White Orca Named Frosty

In its release, the DOC encouraged the public to report behavior they believe breaches wildlife protections.

"This is the third case in recent years in which social media content has led to a successful prosecution for DOC and we greatly appreciate the tip-offs we get from the public," Loper said.

The DOC noted that an estimated 150–200 orcas are found in New Zealand's waters and that interactions with humans and boats can have a large, negative impact on the country's killer whale population.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"Interacting with pods can disturb their natural behaviors like resting, feeding, and socializing, which can have long-term impacts on survival and breeding success, while repeated disturbance may lead to animals avoiding an area," DOC marine technical adviser Hannah Hendriks told The Guardian.

"In particular, disturbance of a pod with a calf presents a risk of separation of the calf from the rest of the pod … this can end up with the calf starving, stranding, and ultimately dying."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.