A man who refers to himself as "Dolphin Dave" has been cited by Hawaii after he was caught repeatedly harassing a humpback whale and a pod of dolphins during a snorkeling trip.
The incident occurred on Sunday when the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) reportedly received "numerous calls reporting alleged wildlife harassment," according to Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The suspect -- 65-year old David Jiménez of Maui, Hawaii, who refers to himself as "Dolphin Dave" on social media -- was allegedly "actively pursuing an adolescent humpback whale and dolphins inside Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park," Hawaii state officials said in a statement regarding the incident.
"DOCARE officers received a video recording of a man snorkeling close enough to the adolescent humpback whale to almost touch the whale's fin," authorities said. "When a DOCARE officer arrived on shore early [Sunday], they recorded Jiménez actively pursuing a pod of spinner dolphins. They recorded a video, in which they say Jiménez … was leading a group chasing the dolphins."
Whales and dolphins are protected by state and federal laws and Jiménez was subsequently charged with two violations -- prohibited acts in regard to endangered whale species and harassing wildlife in a state park.
In spite of his legal citations, Jiménez insisted to authorities that he would not stop swimming with whales and dolphins "because it's magical and others do much worse things," according to Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Jiménez has since been summoned to appear in the Kona District court on May 11, 2023, regarding this case.
Officials are asking the public to report wildlife harassment or suspected violations to the Department of Land and Natural Resources tip line at 808-643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app.