Australian Olympic swimmer Taylor McKeown, who captured silver at the Rio Games in 2016, is under investigation by Australian authorities for riding a jet ski with two friends too close to a pod of whales. A photographer captured the trio on the ski on the Sunshine Coast this week and turned the photos over to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. The three were off a point of land known as Point Cartwright near Mooloolaba Beach.
In Australia, jet skis aren’t allowed within 300 meters of whales and perpetrators can be fined up to $15,000. McKeown, who was driving the ski, vehemenently denied the allegations. “Anyone who knows me knows my passion for wildlife,” she said. “Having professionals look at it is the best thing that can happen. We were literally floating in the water. They got closer and we sat there motionless. If whales approach that’s their decision.”
The photographer, who asked to remain anonymous when interviewed by the Sunshine Coast Daily, says the women continued to harass the animals for 20 minutes. “We witnessed repeated interactions with whales and calves by a jet ski as I photographed the incident,” he said.
There were a number of witnesses to the incident who are being asked to participate in the investigation.