Man called “Dolphin Dave” accused of harassing whales and dolphins
▶ Watch Video: New technology helps avoid whale-ship collisions
A man from Maui, Hawaii, who refers to himself as Dolphin Dave, is accused of harassing humpback whales and dolphins in Hawaii.
This weekend, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) received an influx of calls about a man “pursuing a humpback whale,” on the big island, the department said in a Facebook post on Monday.
The suspect was identified as 65-year-old David Jiménez, who was allegedly seen snorkeling close to a humpback whale in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park on Sunday, DLNR said.
The department shared a video on social media that appears to have been filmed under water by Jiménez himself. He is seen swimming close to the whale, reaching out and nearly touching its fin.
When the department’s enforcement division arrived on the scene, Jiménez was near a pod of dolphins. A responding officer recorded Jiménez allegedly pursing the pod and leading a group to chase the animals.
Jiménez is known as “Dolphin Dave” on Facebook, where he shares dolphin-inspired art.
When asked about the incident, Jiménez told officers “he’s not going to stop swimming with whales and dolphins, ‘because it’s magical and others do much worse things,'” the department said.
He was cited for allegedly violating two Hawaii Administrative Rules – one that protects endangered whale species, and another that prevents the harassment of wildlife in a state parks. He is set to appear in court in May.
CBS News has reached out to Hawaii DLNR and Jiménez for further comment and is awaiting response.
Several animals in Hawaii are protected under the several federal and state laws, according to DLNR. Under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, humpback whales are protected, and other Hawaii state laws protected endangered, threatened and indigenous species like other whales, seals and many different types of dolphins.
While humpback whales were once considered endangered – and many populations around the world still are classified as endangered or threatened – they are not considered at risk in Hawaii, according to NOAA. Still, they are at risk of harassment from boats, particularly because they often swim close to shore and attract whale-watching tours.
NOAA advises whale watches to keep a safe distance and do not touch the whales.