The state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has cited a Maui man for illegally pursuing wildlife at Kealakekua State Historical Park on the Big Island. DLNR said that 65-year-old David Jimenez of Maui was cited following numerous complaints to the agency reporting that he was harassing Hawaii wildlife.
There’s no way to simply assume either tourists or residents are more at fault when it comes to the protection of Hawaii animals and other natural resources. We’ve seen visitors regularly approach protected Hawaiian Sea Turtles. And now we have this case where the state alleging a Hawaii man is harassing dolphins and whales. And unfortunately, neither of these are isolated incidents. — Beat of Hawaii
The state said Jimenez was “allegedly actively pursuing an adolescent humpback whale and dolphins inside Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park.” According to the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, federal law requires everyone to stay more than 100 yards (300 feet) from a humpback whale in Hawaii waters. Everyone should also be at least 150 feet from all other marine animals.
In a video that DLNR received below, Jimenez can be seen “snorkeling close enough to the adolescent humpback whale to almost touch the whale’s fin.” When animal welfare officers arrived today, they also recorded him “actively pursuing a pod of spinner dolphins” and “leading a group chasing them.”
Jimenez goes by the handle “Dolphin Dave” on a Facebook fan page that isn’t regularly used (seen below).
I’m not going to stop swimming with whales and dolphins, “because it’s magical and others do much worse things.” — David Jimenez, speaking to Hawaii DLNR.
Jimenez was cited as violating the following Hawaii Administrative Rules:
13-124-3(b)(1) Prohibited Acts in Regard to Endangered Whale Species
13-146-41 Harassing Wildlife in a State Park
He will appear again in Kona District court on May 11, 2023.
To report wildlife harassment or suspected violations, call the 24-hour DLNR tip line at 808-643-DLNR.
About Kealakekua Bay State Historic Park.
Located 12 miles south of Kona, the bay is an incredible Marine Life Conservation District widely frequented by snorkelers, scuba divers, and kayakers. It is renowned for clear water abundant in both coral and tropical fish. The bay is also a place where you’ll find spinner dolphins and, obviously, humpback whales.
Kealakekua Bay is also where Captain James Cook, the British explorer, was killed on February 14, 1779. There is an obelisk on the shore that marks the spot where he died. In 1877, as an act of diplomacy, the Kingdom of Hawaii deeded the land that the monument stood on to Britain. A sacred heiau nearby, Hikiau Heiau, is dedicated to the Hawaiian god Lono.