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Wildlife Viewing

How to View Wildlife Responsibly

Responsible Viewing in the Wild

Although experiencing dolphins and other marine life up close at Dolphin Quest is safe and educational, encounters with wild animals can be harmful for both humans and animals.  Dolphin Quest promotes the responsible viewing of animals in the wild. At Dolphin Quest, all animal interactions are designed and provided by marine mammal specialists with two priorities; to be a positive, voluntary, and enriching experience for the dolphin participants and to be a safe, educational and inspiring experience for the human participants.

More and more people are helping to protect marine life by following legal and recommended viewing distances. Join in and still have an amazing experience!schematic

Never get closer than:
10 feet from sea turtles
50 feet from monk seals
50 yards (150 feet) from spinner dolphins
100 yards (300 feet) from humpback whales

Maintaining these distances from not only saves you from a guilty conscience, legal fines, and potential prison time, it also protects the wildlife and maintains the ecological balance.

Being a respectful viewer honors Hawaiian culture in demonstrating pono (righteousness) and honoring wildlife as spiritual guardians or ‘aumākua.

Additional Tips & Guidelines

  1. Use your camera’s zoom. If using a cell phone, try cropping the photo in your phone’s image editing tool for a closer-up look of the marine life from these distances.
  2. Bring binoculars along on viewing excursions to get a good view from the recommended viewing distances.
  3. Never swim with wild spinner dolphins. If approached by a spinner dolphin, take immediate action to move 50 yards away.
  4. Do not attempt to touch, ride, or feed turtles. Never get closer than 10 feet, which is about the distance of a compact car.
  5. Limit your time observing an animal to 1/2 hour.
  6. Marine mammals and sea turtles should not be encircled or trapped between boats or shore.
  7. If approached by a marine mammal or turtle while on a boat, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass. Boat movement should be from the rear of the animal.

These guidelines do not replace Federal or state law. Harassment, pursuit and feeding of marine mammals is prohibited by Federal law.

Additional Resources:

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/six-reasons-why-you-should-not-swim-wild-spinner-dolphins

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/marine-life-viewing-guidelines

https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/dolphinsmart/what.html


woman kissing dolphin

Visiting Certified Zoos and Aquariums

One of the best ways to learn about and be inspired to protect animals is to experience them up close in safe and responsible ways. Certified zoos, aquariums and marine parks like Dolphin Quest provide these unique opportunities.

At Dolphin Quest, our dolphins and marine animals are well loved and receive the absolute best possible care. Animal health and wellness has always been our number one priority. In some parts of the world, this isn’t the case. It is important to be informed when making decisions on where and how to experience animals.

To maintain accreditation and certification in these programs all Dolphin Quest locations must pass a rigorous annual inspection that reviews all aspects of animal health, safety and wellness among a host of other factors. The criteria for these inspections are well above that of the USDA who also conduct surprise inspections. These third-party reviews provide our guests with the comfort of knowing that our dolphins are in great health and well cared for at Dolphin Quest.

Seek out zoos, aquariums and marine life parks that are accredited or certified for their animal care. For example, Dolphin Quest is accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and Certified Humane by the American Humane organization.

Avoid animal experiences that are not certified or accredited. Also avoid paid “selfie” opportunities with individual wildlife offered in remote locations. Some these animal experiences may be tied to illegal wildlife trafficking.

Look for the “Accredited by the Alliance” and “Humane Certified” logos or visit Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and American Humane to discover new places to safely and humanely experience animals.

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