Two speedboat drivers in New Zealand were caught on overhead video blatantly disregarding regulations protecting marine mammals by running over a pod of dolphins and are now being sought by the authorities.
"We want to talk to the people who drove the speedboats through the dolphins," Dr. Krista Hupman, Department of Conservation marine ranger, told the New Zealand Herald.
An investigation was launched after drone operator Sam Kynman-Cole from topVIEW Photography showed the DoC footage of the illegal actions by the boaters, one in particular, at Army Bay in Whangaparaoa.
"I was surprised and disappointed that the boat went so fast through the pod," Kynman-Cole told Newshub New Zealand. "The driver would have been aware the pod was in the bay, and unless there was an emergency situation they could have driven slower or avoided the pod altogether.
“From general experience with some powerboats in the past it would be nice to see a little more courtesy and respect out there on the water."
The public sentiment was a bit more harsh.
The drone footage was uploaded to the whale and dolphin watch Whangaparaoa Facebook group where some expressed outrage over the boaties’ behaviour.
“Some people shouldn’t be allowed on the water. What an idiot on the boat,” Brian Howe commented.
Several thought the drivers should be prosecuted, including Alison Parr.
“I hope they get prosecuted or [have] the boat taken off them. Hope no dolphins were injured,” she said.
Erica Rowlands said despite dolphins’ agility in the water, they were still at risk from boat strike.
“Older individuals, injured, pregnant mums and calves may not move quick enough. Even healthy adults can easily be confused by the noise and swim the wrong way,” she says.
Under the rules of the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, boaters are required to travel no faster than 10 knots within 300 meters of any dolphins, orcas, whales, seals and sea lions.
"In addition, vessels must only approach whales and dolphins from behind and to the side, and must not obstruct the animals’ path or cut through any group," Hupman told the Herald.
Clearly the boaters were in violation. The DoC is asking the public's help in locating the perpetrators.
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