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This is the moment a female humpback whale takes a swipe at an overzealous diver. Conservationists working off Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean say this kind of incident is on the rise. Whale spotters too often ignore guidelines and get too close to the animals, causing them to lash out, sometimes fatally.
>> This is what we call agnostic behavior, behavior which can be observed in groups when they're competing with each other. For example, males who are competing and challenging each other, might show these agnostic signs. But also when the whale is being hunted, for example by orca, it will make these agnostic movements.
It will show its pectoral fin. It will use its tail to defend itself. This behavior can be found when there's an immediate danger, and that can happen when it sees swimmers as a threat.>> The problem is made worse here, because French owned Réunion Island is one of the rare sites where swimming with whales is allowed.
Front crawl can upset the sea mammals, whose fins can be up to 5.5 meters wide. Visitors must also have proper equipment, including flippers, masks, snorkel, and a buoy for safety. Last year, local authorities set up a protection team, or tranquility brigade, to swoop in and keep visiting boatloads of tourists in check.
They've approached 500 boats since June. But patrols say that less than one in three boats follow the rules.