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The DOLPHINCARE code was originally created for Dolphin Encountours in collaboration with the Centre of Dolphin Studies in SA, the Museum de Historia Natural, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane & International Dolphin Watch UK.   It is based on research findings obtained from longterm fieldwork that has a reliable, repeatable and recordable methodology for observing dolphins in the wild.

The code is a standard operating procedure that offers participants in commercial dolphin swims knowledge and skills that can empower best practice for in-water observations of wild dolphins. We refer to this code in preparation for, during and after in-water observations of wild dolphins.

Age restrictions for swimming with wild dolphins.

No children under the age of 5.

Welcome & introduction to the species found.

  • Explain different species encountered in the Reserve, characteristics and abundance.

  • The encounter is solely based on behaviour and certain individuals within the pod.

  • Address important behaviours like avoidance, resting, socialising, foraging etc.

Boat, snorkel & safety briefing.

  • Non- swimmers are not permitted water entry.

  • It is advisable to do a snorkelling practice session first before participants enter into open-water.

  • Participants are instructed on boating seating, safety and regulations.

  • Participants are to be calm and quiet at all times.

  • Under no circumstances swim under the boat or in front of it.

  • Move around the back staying clear of the motors.

  • Do not swim inshore into the waves, swim parallel to the shore line.

Water entry and swim postures.

  • Wait for the skippers instruction before getting off the boat..

  • Participants enter into the water gently slipping in legs first.

  • Once off the boat immediately move away and meet up with your guide.

  • No backward rolls or diving off the boat.

  • Participants are to float with their hands at side / behind their back and wait for the dolphins to approach.

What to expect when cetaceans are encountered.

  • The pod is approached slowly and data is collected.

  • Boat crew asses behaviour and likelihood of interaction. Participants are requested to prepare themselves for water entry.

  • Photo identification to be undertaken prior, during or after in-water observations.

  • Skippers are only permitted to drop twice on the same pod

  • *During peak season one pod, one drop per operator.

  • A one boat, no queue policy is to be followed, (in a single sighting, one boat may interact with dolphins at a time)

In-water conduct.

  • Participants are not permitted to touch, dive down or chase the dolphins.

  • Once in the water stay in a group with your guide/facilitator who has been trained on how to interact with the wild dolphins and monitor their behaviour.

  • Do not swim frantically at the dolphins, on top of them or after them.

  • Swim slowly and calmly causing as little turbulence as possible.

  • No scuba, long self-sticks or camera flash.

  • The use of underwater scooters is not permitted.


  • Avoidance, fighting & erratic herding; no water entry.

  • Newborns (<3 weeks) results in no water entry.

  • No water entry with resting dolphins*.

  • Swimming with whales is not promoted.

  • Every attempt should be made by crew NOT to interfere with behaviour.

  • Feeding and coaxing of dolphins is not permitted.

  • Corralling dolphins with the boat not permitted.

  • Breaking of code results in offender exiting water.

  • Do not litter

Main Beach, Ponta do Ouro, next to Beach Bar & launch-site

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