A pod of spinner dolphins in the Red Sea. Alexander Vasenin / Flickr

Tourists disrupt dolphin chillout time

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Spinner dolphins in the Red Sea need a break from tourists, say a group of researchers including New Zealanders. Their new study monitored the behaviour of the dolphins at sites with and without regulations in place, finding that exposure to swimmers and boats decreases typical dolphin rest behaviours such as hanging out in large groups. The authors recommend that dolphin interactions in tourist hotspots be limited by regulations on the times and places people can interact with dolphins.

Journal/conference: Royal Society Open Science

Organisation/s: University of Otago

Funder: Funding provided by the Italian Cooperation in Egypt, University of Otago, the Rufford Small Grant Foundation, Boomerang for Earth Conservation and a dedicated crowd funding campaign.

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Behavioural responses of spinner dolphins to human interactions

There is increasing evidence that dolphin watching and swim-with activities can disrupt wild dolphin behaviour and negatively affect their welfare and conservation. Swim-with spinner dolphin activities are nowadays popular in the Egyptian Red Sea. There, tourism is intense and dolphin responses extreme in areas where no regulations exist.  Our experience shows that simple measures, such as a time-area closure system, were effective in significantly reducing dolphin exposure to human disturbances and their effects. Urgent management interventions are required in sites where tourism is unregulated and we recommend addressing the complex nature of human-dolphin interactions with a precautionary approach.

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