Swim with the Dolphins tours in Panama City Beach – Guidelines
Human/dolphin interactions are governed by a set of laws and guidelines, which you need to be aware of if you want to swim with dolphins in Panama City Beach. At Water Planet, we will take the time to educate you before every dolphin swim trip. Most of us want to swim with dolphins but the question is do dolphins want to swim with us? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and we need to respect that in order to avoid harassing them. Education before encounters with a wild animal is most important. We need to remember that we are like guests in their environment. we will take the time to teach you important facts about dolphins because we want you to feel that your experience makes sense. We will tell you about dolphin’s anatomy. We will explain the dolphin sonar and echolocation. We will tell you about courtship, mating, dolphin birth, male female calf relationships, cooperative fishing, fishing techniques, social structure, communication, whistles and vocalization. There is a set of laws, rules, guidelines and etiquette governing the interaction with wild dolphins and we will give you the information you need to have a safe, respectful and enjoyable experience.
WATER PLANET GUIDELINES FOR ENCOUNTERS WITH WILD DOLPHINS
1. Do not chase or pursue the dolphins. Anchor your boat and swim in the area around your boat. Not only is it a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to follow closer than 50 yards, you run the risk of disturbing important activities such as feeding, courtship and nursing.
2. Always put out a dive flag when anyone is in the water. Remember that boats and snorkelers are not easy to see in the water.
3. Do not feed or touch the dolphins, either from the water or from a boat. Feeding and touching dolphins disrupts their natural behavioral patterns and it puts young dolphins that are not “boat-wise” at risk from boating injuries. It puts dolphins at risk of inhaling boats exhaust fumes. Dolphins can also become sick from eating contaminated fish and get injured by fishing hooks. Feeding dolphins, like chasing them, is illegal and can cost you a hefty fine.
4. If a dolphin approaches you while you are swimming, do not reach out and try to touch him. These dolphins are wild animals and rarely tolerate physical contact from humans. Trying to touch or grab a dolphin is illegal and is virtually guaranteed to scare them away.
5. Dolphins’ interest in people is frequently based on curiosity. Diving, twisting, spiraling and making unusual sounds underwater often succeed in attracting a dolphin’s attention. Be playful and active in a non-aggressive way.
6. Spend as much time as possible underwater. Dolphins live underwater.
7. Swim in a fluid and as graceful a style as you can. Avoid using your hands for swimming as much as possible. Dolphins do not have hands and many dolphins avoid people who wave their arms in front of them.
8. Try swimming with a friend and playing underwater games (follow the leader) with one or more friends. Dolphins are social creatures and are sometimes curious about our social interactions.
9. Dolphins are often curious about our children. Do not allow children to swim alone with dolphins. Dolphin’s games are sometimes rough and aggressive; many children can become frightened in this situation. Dolphins keep their youngest close to them when exploring something new. We should follow this example.
10. Remember that RESPECT is the key to any interaction. Dolphins must initiate any interaction and they have the right to terminate it. Most dolphin encounters last less than 1 minute. Do not pursue a dolphin either in the water or with your boat.
In order to decrease the pressure caused by the dolphin tour industry on wild dolphins in Bay County, Water Planet has designed an educational training program for dolphin tour captains and guides. This program is Called BadToFeed.