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Federal government will protect orcas

Whale watching boat owners are not pleased, but the federal government has stepped in to take a protective stance over orcas in the Puget Sound area, according to

The new federal order prohibits recreational vehicles from being closer than 200 yards to an orca.

Orcas' populations have declined since the 1990s, when the area around Puget Sound boasted about 97 whales. The number was down to 79 in 2001 and at the latest count - after the animals were placed on the endangered list - the population rose slightly to 86 orcas.

The new regulation is an adjustment of the old requirement, which listed 100 yards as acceptable for recreational vehicles.

This rule would apply to whale watching boat owners, who now fear that tourism in their industry might suffer.

According to the news source, the loud motors and sounds created by boats are damaging to orcas' ability to find food using their own sonar system.

Orcas are also known as killer whales and can weigh up to 6 tons, according to the National Geographic. On average, orcas live between 50 to 80 years and travel in pods. 
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