Police in Tasmania, Australia, are investigating whether personal watercraft riders broke any laws when they raced through a pod of dolphins near Hobart.
Video footage apparently shot by an onlooker shows two personal watercraft, each with a man and a woman on board, coming up behind the pod before racing through them on Saturday in Frederick Henry Bay, The Mercury newspaper of Tasmania reported.
Witnesses said the watercraft managed to separate a pod of about 30 dolphins, according to Australian Broadcasting Corp.
According to Marine and Safety Tasmania, Jet-Skiers and boaters must not exceed 8 knots within 100 meters (330 feet) of dolphins and they must withdraw immediately if the animals show signs of disturbance, The Mercury reported.
Inspector Stuart Scott told the newspaper police would be interviewing the watercraft riders to determine if marine mammal protection laws were broken.
One of the riders, Todd Tatnell, claimed they did nothing wrong and that the dolphins had been following them before and after the video was taken. He denied that the dolphins were distressed.
"It's just been blown right out of proportion over nothing really," he was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"We were only just playing with the dolphins as you do when you go out on the boat and Jet Skis and they'll come and play with you all the time."
Wildlife biologist Kris Carlyon of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment told The Mercury it’s likely the marine mammals were scared away and would not return.
"The dolphins will have felt harassed and basically will clear out, at least in the short term," said Carlyon.
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