Man calling himself ‘Dolphin Dave’ charged over alleged harassment of humpback whales and dolphins in Hawaii

A man from Maui, Hawaii, who calls himself 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 “chasing a humpback whale” on the Big Island, the department said in a Facebook post Monday.

REPORTING HOTLINE LIGHTS UP WITH CALLS ABOUT MAN NIGHTING A BOLTHAS 65-year-old David Jiménez of Maui was quoted as saying…

Posted by Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) on Monday, March 6, 2023

The suspect was identified as David Jiménez, 65, who was reportedly snorkeling close to a humpback whale in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park on Sunday, according to DLNR.

The video reportedly showing Jiménez with the whale appears to have been filmed underwater by himself.

Hawaii DLNR

The department shared a video on social media that appears to have been filmed underwater by Jiménez himself. He is seen swimming close to the whale, extending his hand and almost touching his fin.

When the department’s enforcement department arrived on the scene, Jiménez was near a pod of dolphins. A responding officer recorded Jiménez allegedly chasing the pod and leading a group to chase the animals.

At one point in the video, Jiménez appears to reach out to the whale, almost touching it.

Hawaii DLNR

Jiménez is known as “Dolphin Dave” on Facebook, where he shares dolphin-inspired art.

When asked about the incident, Jiménez told officers “he will not stop swimming with whales and dolphins, ‘because it’s magical and others do far worse things,'” the department said.

He was cited for allegedly violating two Hawaiian administrative rules — one protecting endangered whale species and another preventing the harassment of wildlife in a state park. He must appear in court in May.

CBS News has reached out to Hawaii DLNR and Jiménez for further comment and awaits response.

According to DLNR, several animals in Hawaii are protected under various federal and state laws. Under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, humpback whales are protected, and other Hawaii state laws protect threatened, endangered, and native species such as other whales, seals, and many different types of dolphins.

While humpback whales were once considered endangered — and many populations around the world are still considered threatened or endangered — they are not considered a risk in Hawaii, according to NOAA. Still, they are at risk of being harassed by boats, especially since they often swim close to shore and attract whale watching tours.

NOAA advises whale watchers to keep a safe distance and not to touch the whales.

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