Jet skiers harass dolphins

Police are investigating complaints of jet-skiers riding among dolphins in Frederick Henry Bay in Lauderdale, USA on Saturday.

The footage showing jet-skiers riding through the pod of dolphins has prompted anger from dozens of Mercury readers.

But one of the riders claimed today they were doing nothing wrong and that the dolphins had been following them before and after the video footage was taken.

Inspector Stuart Scott said police would be interviewing the jet-skiers.

Marine and Safety Tasmania said jet-skiers and boaters were not allowed to drive erratically within 200m of shore if there is a house within 100m of the shore line.

They must not exceed 8 knots within 100m of dolphins and they must withdraw immediately if the animals show signs of disturbance.

Onlookers who saw the incident on Saturday said people were enjoying watching the dolphins when they were horrified to see the two skis, each carrying a man and a woman, ride through the dolphins.

Their horrified voices calling out are heard on the tape.

They believed the riders did it deliberately and seemed to continue riding among the dolphins, which split up and swam in different directions.

Wildlife biologist Kris Carlyon said it was likely the dolphins would not return.

“The dolphins will have felt harassed and basically will clear out, at least in the short term,” said Mr Carlyon, of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment.

“We’ve seen quite a few calves among the pods [recently] and they are at a particularly vulnerable stage of their life.

“This is a sad example of people getting over-excited and ruining it for everyone else.”

Marine and Safety Tasmania was keen to identify the jet skis or their riders.

Police could also become involved.

DPIPWE recommends whale-watching guidelines also apply to dolphins:

  • Do not approach in a boat any closer than 100m, the distance recommended for boats moving at slow speed and with no wake (less than 8 knots)
  • Vessels under steam no closer than 300m
  • Withdraw immediately if animal shows disturbance
  • Move slowly while in the area
  • Do not approach from the rear of the animal

Source: The Mercury

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