The long running Dolphin SMART programme, of which WDCS is a partner, has continued its recent expansion in Hawaii to now include the island of Kauai . Dolphin SMART is a unique voluntary wild dolphin conservation programme that aims to improve the standards of tour operators offering dolphin watching trips.
Tour operators obtain recognition after successfully demonstrating responsible viewing of dolphins in the wild, while educating customers on the importance of dolphin conservation.
Kauai tour business, Holoholo Charters, has now earned the Dolphin SMART recognition in Hawaii, and the company joins Hawaii Nautical and their subsidiary, Port Waikiki Cruises, and Ocean Joy Cruises as Hawaii’s newest, and Kauai’s first, Dolphin SMART operator.
Moves to expand Dolphin SMART to Hawaii followed an increase in tourist trips to see spinner dolphins in the main Hawaiian Islands. These human interactions with the dolphins target Hawaiian spinner dolphins when they are at rest. That’s when they can be found close to shore in shallow coves and bays where they congregate during the day to, care for their young, avoid predators and rest before travelling to deeper water at night to hunt for food.
Hawaiian spinner dolphins are a subspecies found only in the Hawaiian Islands and WDCS is concerned that these human activities may drive the dolphins from important areas which will affect populations as well as individuals.
To book with a Dolphin SMART–operator visit: http://www.dolphinsmart.org
The Dolphin SMART programme was launched in 2007 by NOAA’s Fisheries Service and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and Dolphin Ecology Project. The “SMART” acronym is a reminder of the basic principles of dolphin viewing etiquette:
• Stay at least 50 yards from dolphins
• Move away slowly if the dolphins show signs of disturbance
• Always put your vessel engine in neutral when dolphins are near
• Refrain from feeding, touching, or swimming with wild dolphins
• Teach others to be Dolphin SMART