Cook Islands Tourism director of destination development Metua Vaiimene said the incident was relayed to them by a concerned member of the industry.
“The member overheard a group of tourists who were celebrating being alive because earlier that day, they had been on a tour and had been washed out through the passage and into the open ocean and had to be rescued. So they were feeling thankful for having survived, not having drowned,” Vaiimene said.
He said they passed the message on to the police for investigation.
However, Cook Islands Police spokesman Trevor Pitt said “that there has been no confirmed incident reported.”
Vaiimene said unfortunately this was the fourth incident with regards to the turtle tours in the passages they had reported to the police.
He also said members of the public were concerned and rightly so about safety in the passages.
“We have passed that information on but we do not have any details, we don’t know who the people were, and what tour they went on. But as we understand it was the Turtleman Tours.”
The Turtleman Tours is run by Tuhe Piho.
“He is a Cook Islander and was a teacher in Rakahanga. His daughter Charlotte Piho has her paddleboard yoga. They both truly have a sense of responsibility about safety. The number of incidents we have had recently do not reflect what they say is their commitment to safety overall,” Vaiimene added.