Dolphin swimming ban under final review

  • Fourteen boats are seen in Kailua Bay as their passengers swim with dolphins. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • A Hawaiian spinner dolphin heads towards a man on a dolphin swim in 2016. (Graham Mildrum /West Hawaii Today file)
  • Hawaiian spinner dolphins swim in tight formation in Kailua Bay. Bo Pardau/Community Contributor
  • Hawaiian spinner dolphins follow the wake of a boat near Makalawena beach. Bo Pardau/Community Contributor
  • Regulations proposed nearly three years ago by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that would create a 50-yard barrier around Hawaiian spinner dolphins, or naia, for swimmers, vessels and objects, with a few specific exceptions, are nearing completion, said Ann Garrett, assistant regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Regional Office Protected Resources Division at the Marine Mammal Commission meeting Tuesday at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • A full house was in attendance at the Marine Mammal Commission Meeting Tuesday at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
  • A panel presents at the Marine Mammal Commission Meeting Tuesday at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

KEAUHOU — Approaching and swimming with Hawaiian spinner dolphins is moving closer to being a thing of the past as federal officials work toward finalizing a rule outlawing the practice that’s created a booming tourism industry in West Hawaii and around the state.