Spectacular Northland dolphin sighting marred by fact they were chased by people trying to film them

Source: 1News

A spectacular Northland dolphin sighting earlier this week was marred by the fact they were chased into shore by people trying to film them.

People on a boat and a jet-skier eventually chased the mammals out to sea at Kaimaumau's East Beach on Monday as beachgoers watched on.

Naomi Austen-Reid was on shore and started filming as the large pod of dolphins jumped out of the water.

Austen-Reid told 1 NEWS the small crowd on the beach was initially "wowed" by the close encounter.

However, it turned to disappointment when she realised the dolphins were fleeing a boat and a person on a jet-ski attempting to film them.

"They eventually chased them out into Rangaunu Harbour," she said.

Austen-Reid attempted to call the Department of Conservation about the incident but phone reception was too patchy at the remote location.

The Department of Conservation's Cat Peters says the dolphins were displaying normal socialising behaviour in the footage, but the boat and jet-ski were following close enough to disrupt it.

"People need to step back and let the dolphins have their space," she says.

All seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, under which it’s an offence to harass, disturb, injure or kill marine mammals.

Anyone charged with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal could face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a fine up to $250,000.

If people see concerning activity around marine mammals they can report it to DOC by calling 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).