How To Show Respect To The Dolphins While Dolphin Watching

Dolphins are incredibly intelligent animals. They enjoy blowing bubbles, and they have a unique method of killing fish by stunning the fish with their tails. Sadly, though, dolphin populations are suffering due to air, water, and noise pollution. So if you plan on doing some dolphin watching, you'll want to make sure you do it responsibly. Here's how.

Go out with a dolphin tour group.

Instead of just renting a boat and going off to look for dolphins yourself, look for an official dolphin tour with a group. When you go out with a dolphin tour group, the leaders know how to sail close to the dolphins without actually disturbing them. (This involves, specifically, sailing in the same direction as the dolphins and not crossing their path.) They know what times of year to be extra careful about baby dolphins, too.

Also, many dolphin tour companies either donate to groups that help dolphin populations, or they help the dolphins directly. So, by paying for a tour, you can help to support the dolphins.

Do not try to touch the dolphins.

When you're on a tour and dolphins come up near the side of the boat, it can be tempting to reach down and touch them. You may have seen aquarium workers touch dolphins in the past and figure this is okay. But those were dolphins in captivity; the ones you're seeing are wild dolphins. Touching them may scare them off, and they do not need the anxiety it causes. You can kneel down on the boat, look really close, and take all of the photos you want, but resist the urge to pet or touch the animals.

Don't feed the dolphins.

Your tour guide should tell you before the tour that feeding the dolphins is prohibited. But even if they forget to mention this, you should not bring anything with you to feed the dolphins — even fish. Feeding them from the boat may disrupt their normal feeding patterns and keep them from returning to the proper places to find more food. Dolphins' food supplies are already diminishing due to pollution; you don't want to do anything that makes finding food harder for them in the long run.

Dolphins are amazing creatures, and responsible tour companies are taking steps to help fight the pollution that is affecting them so negatively. Just make sure you also do your part to protect the dolphins while watching them.