Kitesurfer arrested after allegedly getting too close to southern right whale and calf
A kitesurfer who allegedly ventured too close to whales in the waters of a beach on the outskirts of Adelaide has been arrested by police and charged with offenses, including assaulting a protected animal.
- Witnesses reporting seeing a kitesurfer much too close to the whales on Friday and Saturday
- 32-year-old Old Reynella man arrested and charged
- He will appear in court in August
The southern right whale and its calf were first sighted earlier this week off Christies Beach in southern Adelaide.
The rare sight drew crowds of onlookers from the shore, with one local whale watcher saying it was unusual to see the mammals so close to a metropolitan area.
But police said they were concerned after receiving reports of a man kitesurfing near the couple and were called to the Esplanade around 10:15 a.m.
Police said a similar incident happened on Friday.
Witnesses provided photographs and a description of the man.
A 32-year-old man from Old Reynella has been arrested and charged with two counts of assaulting a protected animal and failing to stay within the prescribed distance.
He will appear in Christies Beach Magistrates’ Court on August 2.
A witness reported seeing the man “while his partner was taking pictures of the beach” around 5:00 p.m. Friday.
“Unfortunately, some wanted to get too close,” she wrote on Facebook.
Other photos showed a drone also approaching the whale.
Whales and dolphins are protected by South Australian law, with water users urged to always keep their distance.
“Special restrictions apply when a calf is present,” police said.
“Never feed or harass marine mammals – it’s illegal and harms the animal.”
Kiteboarding South Australia (KSA) said she was aware of the incident and the kitesurfer in charge was remorseful.
“The police have been informed of the incidents and KSA is in communication with the parties involved,” the organization said in a statement.
“Current laws and regulations prohibit personal watercraft from being within 100 meters of an adult or 300 meters if there is a calf involved or another vessel in the water.
“Whales are majestic creatures and while the temptation to get close to oneself is strong, we must also respect the logic and protection around this endangered species.”