Maui News

33 swimmers accused of “aggressively pursuing” a dolphin pod on Hawaiʻi Island

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Hōnaunau Bay, Hawai‘i Island (March 26, 2023) VC: DLNR Hawaiʻi.

A group of 33 swimmers were met by uniformed officers after they were caught on drone video and in photographs allegedly harassing a pod of dolphins at Hōnaunau Bay Sunday morning off Hawaiʻi Island.

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers initiated cases against the group saying they were allegedly involved in the active pursuit of the dolphin pod.

The incident was documented during the officersʻ routine patrol in the South Kona District. 

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“Drone video and photographs show a group of swimmers who appear to be aggressively pursuing, corralling, and harassing the pod,” according to a department news release.

DOCARE officers contacted the group in the water and alerted them to the violation. They were met by officers on land, where a joint investigation was initiated by DOCARE and the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE). 

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, according to officials.

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“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 said.

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