When are tourists going to learn to respect wildlife? Of course, most of us do but there continues to be those who don’t. I’ve been covering the travel industry for three decades and there’s a ridiculous story like this one almost every week. Usually it’s a person who’s trying to get up close to an animal for a selfie like this influencer who stood inches from a bison’s face to take ridiculous selfies. But what took place on Waikiki Beach a couple of days ago is even worse.

A woman appears to try and ride a distressed baby whale even after beachgoers tell her to stop. As you can imagine, the public is outraged and want her to be held accountable for her actions. See the video below and you be the judge.

YouTube video

The video has gone viral on social media and has prompted the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority to send out a statement on “respecting marine wildlife.” Here’s what they wrote, which includes great advice.

“In the wake of a video surfacing online that appears to show a beachgoer mounting and riding a distressed baby whale in Waikīkī, the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority issues this reminder on respecting marine wildlife.

“One of the key messages in HTA’s visitor education program is that wildlife should be admired from afar. This incident reminds us all that the right thing to do when coming across wildlife is to respect their space, and if they are in trouble, notify the authorities,” said Mufi Hannemann, HTA board chair.

If you come across a stranded or injured marine animal anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands:

  • Call NOAA’s Marine Wildlife Hotline at (888) 256-9840 or the Department of Land & Natural Resources at (808) 643-DLNR (3567).
  • Use your camera or cell phone to take a photo of the animal from a safe distance. This can help responders identify the species and the steps necessary to help it.
  • Wait (if you can) for a trained and authorized responder to arrive so you can help them locate the animal. Watch it from a safe distance.
  • Don’t chase or corral the injured animal if it tries to move away.
  • Keep the area calm and quiet (to the extent you can) and encourage others to keep their distance and keep dogs on a leash.

“While rushing to a distressed marine animal’s side may seem like the right thing to do, doing so is potentially dangerous for both the animal and the human. HTA will continue to educate visitors, share information about respecting marine life through our channels, and support our community and government partners who protect these majestic creatures,” said Daniel Nāhoʻopiʻi, HTA Interim President & CEO.

HTA’s reminders on appropriate behavior around marine animals are on digital platforms, in-flight entertainment systems on participating airlines, in Hawaiʻi’s airports, on the in-room television systems of participating hotels, and on GoHawaii.com, the official travel site of the Hawaiian Islands.”

The State of Hawaii and no one else should ever have to send out a statement about respecting wildlife. It should be common sense. But sadly in the age of me, me, me and social media, common sense seems to have taken a backseat.


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