Cruise ship visitors to St Vincent were left shocked and visibly upset after seeing two orcas slaughtered by fishermen right in front of them.
And TUI Discovery took tough action in retaliation, cancelling all of its whale- and dolphin-watching tours.
According to Ken Issacs, who was a crew member on one of two Fantasea whale and dolphin excursions, tourists were delighted with the rare sighting of four orcas off the Leeward coast, but this soon turned to dismay as a whaling boat targeted the animals.
When Issacs realised that the three fishermen on board the vessel – which was equipped with a bow-mounted shotgun modified to fire a harpoon – were aiming at one of the orcas, he shouted at them to leave the mammal alone, but was apparently ignored.
He recalled hearing a loud explosion as the spear struck the orca, and said that his guests were devastated as they returned to the dock in Kingstown.
Whaling does remain a legal practice in St Vincent, but as Issacs was quick to point out, ‘there is nothing traditional about people in speedboats using explosive spear guns to kill whales’. He said that the government should ban whaling and work on building a commercial market for tourist whale-watching trips.