- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A well-known marine biologist in California was sentenced Monday to three years of probation and $12,500 in fines for violating a federal law that bans the feeding of killer whales in the wild.

Nancy Black was also sentenced to 300 hours of community service, The Associated Press reported. Her crime?

Breaking the Marine Mammal Protection Act by tossing some whale blubber to orcas in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary while giving whale-watching tours in 2004 and 2005, AP reported. She pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday.

“I made a mistake,” Ms. Blake said, in tearful testimony reported by the AP. “I’ve learned a big lesson.” She also said that she’s suffered “the worst nightmare I could ever imagine” in the months since her crime.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila wasn’t impressed.

“It’s a sad event when a good scientist falls off the path,” the judge said, in the AP report. “This is your life. This is your passion. These creatures rely on you.”

The big danger is that the killer whales could come to tie humans in with food, said prosecutor Christopher Hale said.

“When wild animals are fed by humans, they learn to lose their natural wariness,” he said, AP reported. “That can lead to devastating effect.”