All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
Huge success for WDC campaign as Virgin Holidays ends SeaWorld trips

Huge success for WDC campaign as Virgin Holidays ends SeaWorld trips

Virgin Holidays has announced that it is to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld as part...
WDC’s partners make a splash by raising over £30k on World Oceans Day

WDC’s partners make a splash by raising over £30k on World Oceans Day

This World Oceans Day, WDC were delighted to have the fantastic support of several of...
New baby offers hope for endangered orca community

New baby offers hope for endangered orca community

On the morning of 30 May, off Tofino, British Columbia, Canada, an orca calf, complete...
What would you say to the remaining few North Atlantic right whales?

What would you say to the remaining few North Atlantic right whales?

North Atlantic right whales are on the brink of extinction. Fewer than 450 are left....
NZ government options for dolphins will be a CATastrophe

NZ government options for dolphins will be a CATastrophe

The New Zealand government is attempting to use a parasite spread by cats as an...
Whaling in Japan, who wins and who loses?

Whaling in Japan, who wins and who loses?

As the G20 global leaders meet in Japan, Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s CEO, Chris Butler-Stroud...
Rare right whale song recorded for first time

Rare right whale song recorded for first time

Researchers in Alaska have documented the song of the North Pacific right whale. Most people...
Beluga whales safely land in Iceland

Beluga whales safely land in Iceland

Cargolux delivers Little Grey and Little White safely to Iceland on their way to the...

Dolphin SMART recognizes another Florida business

WDC and program partners welcome Coastal Kayak Charters of St. Pete Beach, Florida to Dolphin SMART – a unique voluntary wild dolphin conservation and stewardship program. Dolphin SMART recognizes businesses that responsibly advertise and view wild dolphins and educate their patrons on dolphin conservation. Coastal Kayak Charters transports guests and kayaks by boat to explore Tampa Bay wildlife and ecosystems. Guests onboard responsibly view dolphins and other wildlife found in the local waterways.

The Dolphin SMART program continues to expand in Florida, adding Coastal Kayak Charters to the list of participants. Dolphin SMART is a partnership program developed by Whale and Dolphin Conservation with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Dolphin Ecology Project. Dolphin SMART is a voluntary program for commercial dolphin watching operators who voluntarily comply with Dolphin SMART’s criteria for implementing responsible viewing practices and educating passengers about dolphin conservation.

Launched in 2007 by WDC, NOAA, and the Dolphin Ecology Project, the program originated in Key West, Florida, and expanded to Alabama before launching in Hawaii in 2011. The Dolphin SMART acronym is a reminder of the basic principles of responsible dolphin viewing:

Stay at least 50 yards from dolphins,
Move away slowly if the dolphins show signs of disturbance,
Always put your vessel engine in neutral when dolphins are near,
Refrain from feeding, touching, or swimming with wild dolphins,
Teach others to be Dolphin SMART.

Viewing dolphins safely and responsibly, as well as advertising responsible viewing practices, is a cornerstone of the Dolphin SMART program. Irresponsible viewing of wild dolphins may disrupt important behaviors causing negative impacts to the health of dolphins and their young. Visitors viewing dolphins with Dolphin SMART businesses enjoy a respectful tour that supports dolphin conservation while learning about dolphin biology and behavior.

Not only is it a violation of the Dolphin SMART protocol, but it is also a federal violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The MMPA was established in 1972 to protect all marine mammals and applies to individuals as well as commercial operators. Violators are punishable by a hefty fine, and in some cases, jail.

There are now 18 recognized businesses in Florida and Hawaii in the steadily growing Dolphin SMART program. NOAA Fisheries encourages visitors to these areas to “look before you book” and support wild dolphin conservation by patronizing a Dolphin SMART business. Participating businesses display a Dolphin SMART flag and decal with the current calendar year. Participants are regularly evaluated to ensure they continue to voluntarily meet program standards. A list of Dolphin SMART businesses is available online.