What may have seemed like an amazing day out on the water for two jet skiers might have actually been a traumatizing day for a pod of dolphins. When jet skiers chased behind a pod of 30 or 40 dolphins this weekend in New Zealand’s Wellington Harbor, spectators were shocked and disappointed. The pod had been swimming around the waters of Oriental Bay and Evans Bay, chasing the fish and delighting onlookers. It wasn’t long, however, before the two men on jet skis started chasing the pod, even “ploughing” through it, according to one spectator.
Mark Gee, a local resident who had been enjoying the dolphin spectacle, told the New Zealand Herald that the jet skiers “definitely split the pod up.” He also added how disappointed he was by their behavior, and was glad when a nearby boatie flagged them down and seemed to scold them. Victoria Barton-Chapple, Wellington City Council spokeswoman, emphasized the importance of treating wild animals with respect. Any incidents, she said, should “be reported to the Department of Conservation through the 0800 DOC HOT line, so their trained experts can come to the rescue.”
There are legal and accepted places to get close to and swim with dolphins. Wellington Harbor is not one of them. The riders broke rules around wild aquatic animals set by the Department of Conservation. Watercrafts are supposed to travel only in idle or no wake speed within 300 meters of whales and dolphins, maintain that there’s no more than three vessels within 300 meters, and never obstruct an animal’s path.
It’s also worth noting that under New Zealand law, anyone charged with harassing, disturbing, injuring, or killing a marine mammal can be subject to two years in prison, or a fine up to $250,000.