Swimming with dolphins is usually at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists when they come to Hawaii. That’s why more and more commercial dolphin tour companies have been popping up throughout the islands, in order to meet the high demand.
The tour boats travel several miles from the shore, where passengers suit up in their snorkel gear and hop off the boat for an hour or two of swimming near the dolphins. Multiply this action by at least 10 companies, each going out three to four times a day, everyday. The equation yields a lot of disturbances to the dolphins.
Dolphins are actually protected under the federal law from these kind of possible disturbances. It doesn’t mean swimming with them should be banned completely but rather, rules should be followed by both commercial tour companies and their customers.
The National Fisheries Service launched a campaign called “Dolphin Smart,” which discourages humans from harassing dolphins. To them, it is a matter of responsible viewing versus reckless viewing. Some of the rules set by the law include boats having to turn off their engines when approaching a pod of dolphins, as well as remaining at least 50-yards away.
As the issue becomes more prevalent, more and more companies have been choosing to cruise under the dolphin smart banner, as they should. Let us, as dolphin enthusiasts, also be reminded to admire their beauty from afar and respect their privacy as much as possible.