Viewing Dolphin in the Wild Do's and Don'ts

Viewing dolphins in their natural habitat is an educational and enriching experience if done safely and responsibly.  As human interactions with wild dolphins increase, the risk of disturbing or injuring them also increases.  Below are some important do’s and don’ts to remember when viewing dolphins. Help keep dolphins wild!

DO’s AND DON’TS

  • DON’T: Feed or attempt to feed wild dolphins: it is harmful and illegal.

Prevent harassment of wild dolphins!

  • DO: Stay at least 50 yards away from dolphins when viewing from a vessel or jet ski. Use binoculars for best viewing.
  • DO: Limit time spent observing marine mammals to 30 minutes or less.
  • DO: Avoid making loud or sudden noises near dolphins.
  • DO: Move away slowly if a dolphin’s behavior indicates the animal is stressed or disturbed.
  • DO: Look Before You Book! Book wild dolphin viewing tours with businesses that responsibly view dolphins in the wild and help dolphin conservation. Visit: www.dolphinsmart.org to find responsible dolphin tours in your area.           
  • DON’T: Pursue, swim with, pet or touch wild dolphins, even if they approach you.
  • DON’T: Encircle or entrap dolphins with vessel(s).
  • DON’T: Operate or maneuver vessel in a manner that may cause dolphins to change their current behaviors.  Specifically, do not direct vessel or accelerate toward dolphin(s) with the intent of creating a pressure wake to bow or wake-ride.
  • DON’T: Separate mother/calf pairs.

Prevent watercraft related injuries!

  • DO: Put your vessel’s engine in neutral if in close vicinity of dolphins.
  • DON’T: Drive watercraft through or over groups of dolphins.
Don't Feed Wild Dolphins

Illegal feeding of wild dolphins causes behavioral changes, injury, and death. Chronic feeding causes dolphins to:

1) lose their natural wariness of humans;
2) become dependent on humans for handouts;
3) abandon their natural hunting practices; and
4) teach their calves to become dependent on people for food.
Dolphins are also more likely to be struck by boats, become entangled in fishing gear, remove bait and catch.