Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Never Whistle At A Whale

You may not have heard of marine biologist Nancy Black.
But in America, her harrassment by officialdom has reached leviathan proportions, with no end in sight...and no logic either!
The farce begins in 2005, when Black was out on the water in her whalewatching boat. One of her crew whistled at a humpback that had come near. Some stickybeak phoned the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to ask if the whistling constituted harassment of a marine mammal, which is an environmental crime. NOAA requested a video of the episode, which Black supplied after editing it slightly to highlight the whistling. NOAA found no harassment - but instead charged her for editing the tape, calling this a "material false statement" (which breaks a Civil War law dating back to 1863)!
A year after this charge - that she supposedly lied about the interaction with the humpback that produced no charges - more than a dozen federal agents, led by one from NOAA, raided her home, taking away her scientific photos, business files and computers!
Nancy Black has also been charged with another crime: feeding killer whales. This time, she and two aides were in a dinghy observing orca feeding on strips of blubber torn from a dead grey whale. To help in photographing the orcas' feeding habits, she cut a hole in one of the floating slabs of blubber, and through the hole attached a rope to stabilise the slab while a camera on a pole recorded the whales' underwater eating. She's now charged with "feeding" the orca...which were already devouring the gray whale they'd killed!
NOAA agents have told Black’s scientific colleagues not to talk to her, and to inform them if they were contacted by her or her lawyers. Since then, she has not spoken with one of her best friends. To finance her legal bills she's had to cash in her life savings.
Meanwhile the govt has probably spent millions. It's even delivered a subpoena to her accountant, although no charge against her has anything to do with finances! Maybe it thinks if it buries Black under enough pressure, she'll roll over and plead guilty, just to get them off her back!
A most bizarre case, which has crippled Nancy's scientific career, cost her more than $100,000 in legal fees - so far - and might yet sentence her to 20 years in prison!
Lessons: beware of the whistleblowers among your friends, and never...EVER...whistle at a whale!

PS: 24 April 2013 -  Nine years later, Nancy Black gets probation!

No comments: