Residents demand more action after cruise ship comes close to dolphins off Oahu’s remote coast

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Federal authorities are investigating a cruise ship that came close to dolphins in west Oahu.

According to NOAA, the incident occurred on January 9 off the coast of Makua.

Officials said the area is a popular resting spot for the protected dolphin.

The agency requires people to stay 50 yards away from dolphins, but those rules aren’t always enforced.

“We issued violations to our operators. Whether or not the rulemaker knew the rules beforehand. I think it really depends, you know, on a case-by-case basis,” said Adam Kurtz with NOAA Fisheries.

Residents say this is not the first time that tourist boats have come close to dolphins in the area.

“It’s been going on for at least 10 years,” said Adam Kurtz with the community group Paradise Defenders. “The community, I think they’re very frustrated and waiting for some more measures to be put in place and for that area to be managed a little better with the influx of incoming visitors.”

But NOAA warns that sometimes such events are not always what they seem.

“When you see these interactions on social media or even in person, there are a lot of variables that go into how the animals behave,” Kurtz said.

“You know the distance and the perspective you have, sometimes it can be hard to tell what’s 50 yards and what’s not,” he said.

NOAA said no violations were reported in the recent incident, but the public can also help them enforce the rules.

“We don’t have that big of an office, so we can’t have our eyes on the water everywhere,” Kurtz said. “So we’re really relying on our community to help give you those eyes and help monitor and report.

The incident has been forwarded to NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement for investigation.

The NOAA hotline is 1-888-256-9840. You can also send a video to [email protected] to report a tip.

For more information on how to report, click here Here.

For more information on marine directives, visit NOAA website.

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