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A man's close encounter with a whale off the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington on Friday has annoyed at least one conservationist.
The southern right whale, which caused traffic chaos on State Highway 1 when it was spotted in the ocean near Paekakariki, inspired local man Simon O'Donnell to paddle out on his surf-ski and get close to it.
"I just had to get on her, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she was beautiful. I thought I was a whale rider," Mr O'Donnell told The Dominion Post.
He said he got so close that at one stage he stood on its back as it swam under him.
"For one second I stood up on her. I didn't ride her like the whale rider, but I was standing on her for a split second. It was a buzz."
However, not only did Mr O'Donnell get ticketed for illegal parking and having an expired car registration, he also opened himself up for a fine for getting too close to the whale.
Conservation Department marine ecologist Nadine Bott wasn't impressed, saying Mr O'Donnell could have potentially driven the whale inshore or away altogether.
"It's nothing to be proud of, harassing a whale," she said.
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, people cannot be closer than 50 metres from whales, and fines for such breaches can amount to $30,000.