4 min read

Wild Orca Family Chased Down By People Wanting Selfies

This has to stop happening 🙄

A pod of killer whales off the coast of southern California decided to move on from the spot where they had surfaced — all because these people insisted on snapping a perfect photo.

Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a killer whale researcher and affiliate with the American Cetacean Society in Los Angeles, was observing the group of orcas near Huntington Beach on Friday when she noticed three jet skiers who seemed dead set on getting a closer look. Rather than keep their distance to avoid disturbing the animals, as the law requires, Schulman-Janiger watched as the individuals noisily raced ahead to chase the orcas down.

"The whales were surfacing all around them, and either they or the whales could have potentially been injured," Schulman-Janiger told The Dodo. "The whales were traveling at about 9 knots, a very fast pace."

The reason for the jet skiers' risky behavior? Apparently, they wanted to take selfies.

On two occasions, Schulman-Janiger writes, the jet skiers actually came close to colliding with the killer whales — including one of their calves. Fearing for the pod's safety, the biologist says, she tried get the group to keep their distance, but to no avail.

"We called out to them and talked (nicely) to them." Schulman-Janiger said. "Fifteen minutes later, they did it again!"

It seems getting a photo to post online was more important.

This troubling incident only ended when the pod dove deep beneath the surface, diverting their course in an apparent attempt to escape their selfie-seeking pursuers.

"The whales got fed up and took off, after being on a very predictable path for hours," Schulman-Janiger wrote. 

The pod was not seen again.

If these images taken by Schulman-Janiger are any indicator, the jet skiers could face a hefty price for their actions. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, harassing orcas is illegal, and doing so is punishable by fines of $11,000 or up to a year in prison. Schulman-Janiger says she's already reported the incident to authorities, and is asking folks to keep an eye out for the group's selfies being posted online.

Sadly, such behavior has become increasingly common in the age of social media — where the need to take that perfect selfie with an animal can sometimes prove deadly.