Safety first for all: what you need to know
Imagine if a pod of dolphins, a raft of sea lions, or even a bale of sea turtles converged upon your neighborhood. Yes, that would be very cool — but consider the efforts necessary to keep our aquatic neighbors, as well as our own human neighbors out of harm’s way.
Going out onto the water to enjoy various aquatic sports is no different. While for us, it might be that time of the year again, with long, sunny days and warm temperatures to enjoy. However, for the marine life who make the oceans and other bodies of water their year-round homes, certain considerations need to be taken to ensure the safety for all.
While in the presence of marine life, your actions should not cause a change in an animal’s behavior
Please keep in mind that human activity could cause:
- separation of mothers and their young,
- disruption of migratory patterns,
- disruption of social groups such as pods of orcas,
- disruption of resting activities by seals, sea lions, and sea turtles, or
- interference in breeding and/or reproductive and rearing activities.
Earlier this year, Dolphin Project’s team in Bali, Indonesia rescued this endangered sea turtle (pictured above). ‘Coco’, as she was named, suffered from life-threatening head injuries, likely caused by a boat propeller. For six months, she has been in our care, rehabilitating at our dedicated Turtle Hospital, onsite at the Umah Lumba Center.
Boat propellers can cause serious harm, or death to aquatic life
If you encounter dolphins or other whales:
If a dolphin or another whale is riding the bow wave of your boat, avoid sudden course changes. Hold course and speed, or reduce speed gradually. Do not drive through pods of porpoises or dolphins.
If you encounter seals, sea lions or turtles:
Reduce the speed, minimize wake, wash and noise of your boat or other personal watercraft, and then slowly pass without stopping. “Wake” refers to the disturbed water caused by the motion of a boat’s hull passing through the water, and “wash” is the disturbed water caused by a propeller or jet drive. Avoid sudden changes of speed or direction, and move away slowly at the first sign of disturbance or agitation.
Keep local laws and guidelines in mind
To ensure the safety of marine life, please familiarize yourself with local laws and guidelines.
The following sources were used in this blog:
Watching marine wildlife, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Viewing marine life, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Department of Commerce
Boat operators reminded of rules on protected marine mammals, GOV.UK
Featured image: Common dolphins swim off the coast of Dana Point, California. Credit: Cynthia Fernandez