Swimmers accused of 'harassing' dolphins in Hawaii

JM McBride

Hawaiian authorities have referred 33 swimmers to federal law enforcement after accusing them of harassing dolphins.

The Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officers "initiated cases against a large group of swimmers actively pursuing a pod of dolphins in Hōnaunau Bay Sunday morning, during a routine patrol in the South Kona District,” a news release from the Department of Land and Natural Resources says.

Dolphins.Photo byÁdám BerkeczonUnsplash

“Drone video and photographs show a group of swimmers who appear to be aggressively pursuing, corralling, and harassing the pod. DOCARE officers contacted the group of 33 in the water and alerted them to the violation. They were met by uniformed officers on land, where a joint investigation was initiated by DOCARE and the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE),” the release said.

“Under the Joint Enforcement Agreement with the DLNR, DOCARE Officers are deputized as federal officers and are authorized to enforce federal marine laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Cases like these are worked jointly and are referred to OLE for review and final disposition. It is an excellent partnership where it is a combined joint effort to accomplish the same goal of protecting our living marine resources,” the release from the Hawaiian government noted.

The names of the swimmers were not released. In addition, Hawaiian authorities did not indicate why the swimmers were allegedly harassing dolphins, whether they were all traveling together, and what state the swimmers came from.

According to ABC News, a similar investigation was opened by Hawaii into another man last month.

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