Dolphin etiquette for Bay of Islands boaties
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionLots of people enjoy seeing the dolphins, but they are wild animals and really do need their time out from people especially during the holidays. Find out how boaties in the Bay can help dolphins with a few simple courtesies.
Date: 20 December 2010
Looking forward to a nice relaxing holiday in the Bay of Islands with no one hassling you? So are our bottlenose dolphins who also enjoy summer in the Bay.
“Lots of people enjoy seeing the dolphins and that’s really cool,” says the Department of Conservation’s Bay of Islands marine mammals ranger, Elke Reufels, “but they are wild animals and really do need their time out from people especially during the holidays.”
Elke asks that boaties in the Bay respect a few simple courtesies - which can be enforced by law if necessary.
“We really like to give all dolphins and whales a lunch-break, so we ask people to leave them alone between 11.30am and 1pm. This means they can have a siesta or do whatever they like without having to worry about any boats around them If the dolphins don’t get enough rest - because they have to be on alert for boats all the time - they get tired, their whole health can deteriorate and reproduction rates can decline.”
Lack of time to rest isn’t the only concern though; it’s been shown that if dolphins aren’t allowed to simply be themselves they don’t have time to teach their young how to look for food, or how to behave, so their whole lifestyle is affected.
“Imagine how you would feel about being at home and strangers just coming and going through your house all the time and watching you eat, sleep, and relax. That’s how it is for the dolphins, so we really need to give them their space.”
Taking the slow and easy approach will also be appreciated, says Elke.
“Any boat approaching dolphins should come in slowly from behind and to one side of them, please do not drive through a pod or cut them off. And remember, a boat’s speed should be less than five knots within 300 metres of any dolphin.”
If you happen to spot a pod of dolphins with three boats within 300m of them, you’ll just have to follow the rules and wait until one goes. When it is your turn, please make it short and sweet – around 10 minutes – so that everyone has an opportunity to see the dolphins.
If you’re planning a dip, please don’t swim with calves (less than a metre in length) or juveniles (less than two metres); they’re just too little to know how to cope with you.
If you see dolphins bunching together, speeding up, tail-slapping or deep-diving it’s definitely time for you to pull out as they are sure signs the animals are stressed.