A group of 33 swimmers have been accused of harassing a group of wild dolphins in Hōnaunau Bay, Hawaii, authorities said.
Swimmers preparing to dive were filmed using drones.
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They can be seen “actively chasing” spinner dolphins Sunday morning, according to a press release from the Hawaii Department of Wildlife and Natural Resources.
The swimmers are accused of “aggressively stalking, kidnapping, and harassing the group.”
In Hawaii, it is illegal to swim within 45 meters of spinner dolphins.
Once back ashore, the group is stopped by uniformed officers.
State and federal authorities are actively investigating the incident, US media reported.
It became illegal to approach dolphins in Hawaii’s coastal waters in 2021.
This law came into effect due to the influx of tourists to the island who wanted to swim with dolphins.
The problem is that these spinner dolphins are nocturnal and therefore need to rest during the day, which is becoming difficult for them.
Without the necessary sleep during the day, nocturnal animals cannot hunt and feed successfully at night, endangering the species.
Spinner dolphins got their name for their ability to spin in the air several times.
They can jump nearly three meters above the surface of the water. During the day, they stay in shallow bays to avoid predators in the deep ocean waters.
While dolphins may appear awake during the day because they are swimming, they are partially asleep.
They sleep by resting one half of their brain and keeping the other half awake to surface and breathe. They can sleep even when maneuvering in the water.