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Nancy Black, biologist feeding killer whales, sentenced: $12.5K fine, probation

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The sentence has been determined for Nancy Black, the biologist who had been feeding killer whales in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Los Angeles Times shared the details on Jan. 14.

Black received a fine of $12,500 and she is on probation for three years. She will also serve 300 hours of community service. Her sentence could have been as high as a $100,000 fine and a year in prison for the charge she ultimately pleaded guilty to in court.. The biologist who fed killer whales pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation related to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The prosecutors said Black fed the orcas chunks of gray whale blubber to entice them to come closer to her research vessel. The incidents happened in 2004 and 2005 as she filmed. Nancy Black has appeared on Animal Planet, National Geographic and PBS.

The prosecutors contended that the biologist fed the killer whales, and her crew repeatedly interfered as the orcas tried to take the whale carcass away from the vessel. Black was the only one from the group charged in the matter. The judge contended that feeding wild animals serves to erode their wariness of people, which can be damaging for both the animals and people.

In addition to the fine, probation and community service, the biologist who fed killer whales during the incidents also has to stay away 100 yards away from whales. The original charges included both felony and misdemeanor counts, and if convicted Nancy Black could have been facing 27 years in prison and a $700,000 fine.

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