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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Big fines coming for encroaching on orcas

MARINE WILDLIFE — A boater who was caught by the Coast Guard too close to Puget Sound killer whales on Wednesday won’t be penalized, but next summer violators could be fined thousands of dollars, the Associated Press reports.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is working with the Coast Guard and the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to educate boaters about a 2011 requirement to stay at least 200 yards away from orcas, spokesman Brian Gorman said. Previously it was just a guideline.

“Our intention is to depend on education and warning rather than coming on like gangbusters,” Gorman said.

They’ll make a decision before next summer’s boating season on issuing fines, Gorman said. Civil penalties under the Marine Mammal Protection Act could reach $11,000, and fines under the Endangered Species Act could be as high as $32,500, Gorman said.

Gulp.

Read on for more details from the AP.

Baby orca born, photographed near Puget Sound

WHALE WATCHING — An orca calf, born to the famous J Pod that roams into Puget Sound, was photographed Monday shortly after it was born to an 11-year-old mother.

The killer whales were swimming near the San Juan Islands. See a detailed report here.

See other photos — including some really sweet ones — chronicling the pod's baby whales in recent years.

The photo and whale alerts come from the Center for Whale Research and the Orca Network.