Are Dolphin Tours Safe For The Dolphins?
If you love dolphins, finally going on a dolphin tour might be the fulfillment of a long-held wish. But your love for dolphins can easily come with concern for their welfare. While you might cherish the opportunity to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, will the dolphins feel the same about you?
Approaching the Dolphins
Dolphin tour operators need to abide by a code of practice, which is intended to put the welfare of the animals first. This regulates how the boat can approach a pod of dolphins in a way that's beneficial to both the dolphins and those who want to see them. Any tour boats on the water will not encircle the pod, as this can disrupt the dolphin's ability to navigate. The boat will generally maintain a safe distance from the pod, then allowing the dolphin's natural curiosity to ensure a close encounter.
Dolphins are curious, social creatures, and they will swim up to the boat because they choose to do so. They're not coerced in any way, and dolphins will want to inspect a nearby boat because they find it sufficiently interesting. They are likely used to the tour boats and will know that a boat of a certain size, moving at a certain speed, is here to see them. However, it's crucial to remember that these are wild animals, and have some behavioral differences when compared to captive dolphins in marine parks.
When on the water, you're in the dolphin's territory, and this must be respected. It's not as though dolphins are renowned for attacking humans (quite the opposite), but it needs to be remembered that dolphins are apex ocean predators. Physical interaction also puts the dolphin at risk of disease transfer (an accidental transfer of a pathogen from human to dolphin), however unlikely this is. You should not attempt to pet a wild dolphin.
While petting a wild dolphin is unwise, feeding them can be downright dangerous. A wild dolphin may happily accept any snacks you throw their way, but ingestion of these unfamiliar foods can easily damage the dolphin's gastrointestinal system. You don't want to accidentally make a dolphin sick, so be sure that you don't feed them.
If you should have any doubts about what happens on a dolphin tour, then check with the tour operator. As long as a few basic rules are followed, the experience will be an unforgettable memory for you, and will be perfectly safe and interesting for the dolphins. Contact a dolphin touring company for more information.