Updated July 04, 2012 09:22:25
Source: themercury.com AU
JULY 2012 UPDATE:
Two Lauderdale men accused of ploughing through a dolphin pod on jet skis in January have appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court this morning to answer charges under the Whale Protection Act.
Todd Tatnell, 24, and Tim White, 32, both of Lauderdale, did not enter pleas to charges of interfering with a whale and instead asked for an adjournment. Mr. Tatnell is also facing one count of failing to wear a personal flotation device on a proceeding motor boat. See courthouse video.
The pair was filmed allegedly chasing dolphins in Frederick Henry Bay at Lauderdale. Police decided to charge the two men under the Whale Protection Act after a lengthy investigation in which advice was sought from marine and legal experts.
The maximum penalty is a $26,000 fine.
Magistrate Olivia McTaggert bailed the pair until July 3.
JANUARY 2012 ARTICLE:
Police are investigating complaints of jet-skiers riding among dolphins in Frederick Henry Bay in Lauderdale on Saturday.
The footage showing jet-skiers riding through the pod of dolphins has prompted anger from dozens of Mercury readers. But one of the riders claimed today they were doing nothing wrong and that the dolphins had been following them before and after the video footage was taken.
Inspector Stuart Scott said police would be interviewing the jet-skiers.
Marine and Safety Tasmania said jet-skiers and boaters were not allowed to drive erratically within 200m of shore if there is a house within 100m of the shore line. They must not exceed 8 knots within 100m of dolphins and they must withdraw immediately if the animals show signs of disturbance.
Onlookers who saw the incident on Saturday said people were enjoying watching the dolphins when they were horrified to see the two skis, each carrying a man and a woman, ride through the dolphins.
Their horrified voices calling out are heard on the tape.
They believed the riders did it deliberately and seemed to continue riding among the dolphins, which split up and swam in different directions. Wildlife biologist Kris Carlyon said it was likely the dolphins would not return.
“The dolphins will have felt harassed and basically will clear out, at least in the short term,” said Mr Carlyon, of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment.
“We’ve seen quite a few calves among the pods [recently] and they are at a particularly vulnerable stage of their life.
“This is a sad example of people getting over-excited and ruining it for everyone else.” Marine and Safety Tasmania was keen to identify the jet skis or their riders. Police could also become involved.