Tourists Banned from Swimming with Dolphins
Tourists have been banned from swimming with bottlenose dolphins in New Zealand in a bid to protect them from “being loved into extinction”. Chiaro Giordano reports for UK newspaper, The Independent.
The population of bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands has fallen in recent years and the species is classified as endangered.
According to the Department of Conservation (DOC), people are “simply loving them too much” as heavy boat traffic is causing dolphins to spend less time carrying out important biological behaviours such as “feeding, nursing their young and sleeping”, as dolphins opt to spend time socialising with humans and diving.
A report published by Massey University in 2016, commissioned by DOC, found a link between the high level of interaction between boats and dolphins and the continued decline in numbers.
Researchers discovered the dolphins spent 86 per cent of daylight hours near to at least one boat.
They warned bottlenose dolphins could disappear from the Bay of Islands completely if the population continues to plummet.
In an attempt to tackle the decline, the government has banned boat tours which allow customers to swim with the marine mammals in the Bay of Islands.
New, stricter rules also limit the amount of time the tours can interact with the animals to 20 minutes. Tours can only visit in the morning and afternoon, to give the dolphins more time to themselves.
There are now estimated to be just 31 of the dolphins in the area.
Original article by Chiara Giordano, The Independent, August 28, 2019.