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Group of swimmers cited for chasing, harassing dolphin pod at Big Island’s Honaunau Bay

By Matthew Nuttle

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    KONA, Hawaii (KITV) — A group of over 30 swimmers was cited on the Big Island after being caught chasing after a pod of dolphins at Honaunau Bay over the weekend.

Officers with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) issued citations to 33 swimmers for the incident that took place on Sunday.

Using a drone, DLNR captured images and video of the swimmers “aggressively pursuing, corralling, and harassing the pod,” officials said.

DOCARE officers contacted the group in the water and alerted them to the violation. The group was met by officers back on land and a joint investigation was initiated by DOCARE and law enforcement officers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

DOCARE officers are deputized as federal officers and are authorized to enforce federal marine laws, such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, under the Joint Enforcement Agreement.

DLNR did not say how much the swimmers were cited or what other possible punishment the group could be facing. Officials did not say if the group lived in Hawaii or if they were visitors.

This is the second incident in the month of March involving swimmers harassing marine animals on the Big Island. DLNR did not say if the two incidents are linked.

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