wild dolphin foundation
home dolphins about us activities newsletter donate volunteer links

dolphin smart historical

dolphin smart in hawaii

wild dolphin foundation endorses the west hawaii voluntary standards for marine tourism

is swimming with wild dolphins the problem - and putting them in captivity to do so, not?

this 2012 study in australia (link below), shows the same lack of compliance to un-enforced rules, as does the noaa dolphin smart program . easy to 'sign on', and easy to proceed with business as normal.

ineffectiveness of a marine sanctuary zone to protect burrunan dolphins (tursiops australis sp.nov.) from commercial tourism in port
phillip bay, australia

email newsletter icon, e-mail newsletter icon, email list icon, e-mail list icon sign up for our email newsletter


take action
county council members: mauihawaiikauaihonolulu city
hawaii state legislature: a citizen guide to participation in the legislative process
hawaii state legislature: members of the housedirectory of senators
united states house of representatives
"write your representative" online email form
united states senate: hawaii senators' contact information
write a letter to the editor: honolulu advertiser: email online form • honolulu star-bulletin: email online form
maui news & maui weeklylahaina newsmaui timehaleakala times



dolphin smart noaa

dolphin smart wdcs

wdcs policy on swimming with dolphins


island of hawaii forum: kayaking and swimming with dolphins--what's the issue?

"in the rush to accommodate a visitor’s every expectation, exists a willingness to sacrifice the place and the goodwill of the host community for the short term benefit of the visitor. eventually, the coastline turns into a place from which the visitor was trying to escape, while compromising the condition, integrity, use, and access to natural marine resources by the host community"

dolphin smart - swimming with wild dolphins focus

not that swimming with dolphins is necessarily bad in itself - but there are operations that are relentless about getting folks in the water, if even for a fleeting glimpse of dolphin swimming below – regardless of the state of or impact to the dolphin pod. take this "eco-tour" company for example. if you scroll down to the “testimonial” on their site, you will see:

"soon after the whale spotting we came across a school of spinner dolphins. they were in fairly deep water of about 40 feet. it's on the verge of too risky due to shark territory. they just weren't coming in any closer so the decision was made to jump anyway.
we all jumped in and followed the school for awhile. we frightened them so they swam at the bottom . still, because of the amazing clarity of the water that day we were able to see them easily. yet another piece of luck. oh, and the pacific was very calm.
we boarded the boat when we lost track of the school. about 10 minutes later we found them again and dove back in. as before they headed to the bottom. we again followed them above. suddenly they all began surfacing about 50 feet in front of us. it was heart stopping.

this operator put their people in “shark territory” water, “scared“ the dolphins to the point where they left the area, pursued them to the next drop, scared them to the bottom again. the ecstatic part is when the dolphins surfaced 50 feet away – far enough away for them to catch a breath where they didn’t feel threatened by the swimmers. this is the sole comment listed on this operators website, their self-chosen testimonial of their business.

a particularly obnoxious dolphin-swim operator technique entails either circling or leapfrogging the dolphin pod, then making numerous drops of splashing 15-35 people into the water, laying human “spike strips” in the dolphins path as many times as it takes for all passengers to at least catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming below them.

a few operations run multiple trips, guaranteeing dolphin pressure from sunup to sunset. regularly scheduled mid-day tours are particularly troublesome as (in the relatively recent, pre-vessel impact days) these were the hours that the spinner dolphins were well-documented to be in their deepest states of rest.

a couple of companies not content with one viewing per trip,  will go to each pod of spinner dolphins on the coastline, even if other dolphins are sighted along the way (such as bottlenose), or even if they have previously seen the same pod. none of these companies specify spinner dolphin sightings - just "dolphin watching".

on a closing note, this note from parents onboard a "dolphin smart" cruise with wild side specialty tours:

...being from middle of nowhere, south dakota, we have never experienced the ocean in the way we experienced it with wild side.  it was marvelous.  out here we are surrounded by nature and animals and given a great appreciation for both...  as we sat aboard the catamaran and watched other tour groups invade the pods of spinner dolphins, i was deeply moved by our crew and their respect and obvious love for the animals.  it was educational and informative, which is something i really valued as our 6 year old daughter was with us and she took away from the trip all the most important concepts of ocean life.  the first story she tells her peers and teachers is about how the other boats were disturbing the dolphins while we respected them, and had a different pod come to us.   what a great thing for a young mind to absorb…respect life!  it’s a priceless lesson

even a six year old can recognize wrong.

to put our contribution dollars to the very best use, we do not publish printed materials. you will find much of our information posted on this website. we respond to all email, but unfortunately, as many hours are spent in the field, we do not have staff to regularly answer phone calls.