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Prominent marine biologist to be sentenced after pleading guilty to feeding killer whales

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SAN JOSE, Calif. - A prominent Northern California marine biologist will be sentenced Monday in federal court in San Jose after pleading guilty to illegally feeding killer whales in the wild.

Nancy Black, who runs a popular whale watching tour on Monterey Bay, has pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, a misdemeanour.

Federal prosecutors initially accused Black of feeding orcas in 2004 and 2005 and altering a videotape of her encounters with whales and then lying about it.

Black's guilty plea to the misdemeanour charge resulted in federal prosecutors dropping all the other charges and not seeking jail time.

The marine biologist's work has appeared on PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet. She also operates Monterey Bay Whale Watch.

She has also worked with federal agencies on the study of whales, including the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Black's attorney said that she had collected a piece of grey whale blubber floating in the sea and tied it to rope in order to film the orcas eating for scientific research.

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