A man who calls himself “Dolphin Dave” has been arrested on suspicion of harassing dolphins in the waters of Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii.
According to a statement from Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) several members of the public called them with reports of about a man allegedly "pursuing a humpback whale," near the island.
Officers were also sent a video recording filmed in in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park on Sunday (March 5) that showed a man allegedly snorkelling close enough to the adolescent humpback whale to almost touch the whale’s fin.
Some of the video evidence appears to have been provided by the suspect himself.
The suspect was identified as 65-year-old David Jiménez, DLNR said.
When officers arrived at the scene, Jiménez, who calls himself “Dolphin Dave” on Facebook, was very close to a pod of dolphins. A responding officer recorded a man wearing a black wetsuit – alleged to be Jiménez – chasing the pod and leading a group to chase the aquatic mammals.
When questioned about the incident by DLNR officers, Jiménez told them that he was not going to stop swimming with whales and dolphins, 'because it's magical and others do much worse things,'" the department said.
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He was cited with two breaches of Hawai‘i Administrative Rules (HAR): Prohibited Acts in Regard to Endangered Whale Species, and Harassing Wildlife in a State Park
Jiménez is expected to answer the charges in Kona District court at 8:30 a.m. May 11, 2023.
While humpback whales are not currently seen as an endangered species they are nevertheless protected under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
Other Hawaii state laws protected endangered, threatened and indigenous marine creatures such as other whales, seals and several different types of dolphins.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advises whale watchers to always keep a safe distance from whales, and stresses that the creatures should ever be touched.
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