The New Zealand government has banned tourists from bottlenose dolphin swims in the Bay of Islands after conservation research shows the drop in numbers could be due to human interaction.
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation says the curious, loveable bottlenose dolphin population has declined 66% since 1990 and has 75% mortality rate for young dolphins.
Soooo basically humans are loving dolphins too much and this playful frolicking is KILLING THEM OFF.
Death by love is real, folks.
But why is this happening?
Too much human interaction affects wildlife.
Heavy boat traffic hypes up the dolphins and they spend all their time hanging out with tourists rather than performing critical behaviors like eating, sleeping and nursing their young. Human interaction is causing a dramatic impact on the eco-system and the animals’ behaviour.
The poor little critters are completely overstimulated. Kind of like how we feel going back to the crazy city lights and hordes of people after a nice relaxing break in the Maldives.
The dolphin population has plummeted from 270 in 1999 to a current estimate of 31, a fall of almost 90 percent, since the Bay of Islands has become a popular tourist destination
The researchers also noted that the dolphins spent 86 percent of daylight hours near one boat. To change that trend, the DoC not only banned tourists from swimming with dolphins, but also mandated that tour boats may interact with dolphins for no more than 20 minutes.
All tour operators now have to visit the dolphins in either the morning or the afternoon, allowing the dophins some downtime.
“Everyone who puts a boat on the water in the Bay of Islands needs to be aware of the problem so they play their part in protecting the local dolphin population.”
Sue Reed-Thomas, the DOC’s northern North Island director of operations
Naturally, tour operators are worried that the new ban would be catastrophic for tourism in the area. They’re also concerned that that fewer tour operators on the water means fewer people monitoring how private boats interact with the vulnerable dolphin population, according to the Guardian.
The Department of Conservation is considering partnering with Maori tribes and researchers to start a marine mammal sanctuary in the Bay of Islands.
Can we still experience dolphin swims?
Tourists are still able to swim with bottlenose dolphins in New Zealand‘s south island where the population’s much healthier, plus, tours that swim with common or dusky dolphins are still in operation.
However, it’s still quite a controversial topic. Okay, we’re not talking about Seaworld, we’re talking swimming with the animals in their natural environment; but where is the line when it comes to animal tourism?
Should we just love them from a distance and let the population flourish again?
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