We realise that there is a want and a will from humanity to interact with marine mammals in their natural environment, these encounters can have profound effects on humans and sometimes detrimental effects on marine mammals.
We advocate a code of conduct to lessen the impact of human encounters. We promote and campaign for ethical marine mammal tourism practices along the African coastline in hope of creating a safer world for these non-human persons!
Ethical Marine Mammal Tourism is a way forward that ensures the protection of marine mammals. We encourage Mozambique to include marine mammals into national conservation laws and have submitted recommendations on adopting ethical marine mammal tourism protocols. As of October 2013, the Council of Ministers has received the draft proposal for Marine Mammal Regulations in Mozambique as a whole.
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 a standard operating procedure that offers participants in commercial dolphin swim programs knowledge and skills that can empower best practice.
We refer to this code in preparation for, during and after in-water observations of wild dolphins. The Code is based on DolphinCare’s findings, obtained from longterm fieldwork that has a reliable, repeatable and recordable methodology for observing dolphins in the wild.
A. Gullan, Dr A Guissamulo, S. West, D. Rocha, Dr SLC Gullan, Dr V. Cockroft and the International Dolphin Watch assisted with the first draft which dates back to 1998.
HISTORY OF DOLPHIN TOURISM IN MOZAMBIQUE
During the mid 90’s swimming with dolphins was initiated in Mozambique. South Africa had recently prohibited the activity and Ponta do Ouro’s safe and secure bay was the perfect area to establish Africa’s first structured wild dolphin swim center.
In collaboration with various researchers and together with the support of many wonderful people a sustainable, eco-tourism project was developed that followed a strict, area specific code of conduct.
It was soon realised that the exploitation of the dolphins was becoming a problem and as a result the DolphinCare Code of Conduct was promoted in the area with the intension of limiting the amount of traffic and educating swimmers in a briefing prior to going to sea. A one boat policy was implemented that operators followed.
A dream of seeing a marine protected area be proclaimed took over 15 years to manifest and during that time, marine mammal tourism grew unsustainably and the need to manage human-dolphin interactions become a priority.
Towards the end on 2011 the management plan for the Ponta Partial Marine Reserve was enforced, which saw a decrease in dolphin swim operators and the enforcing of a code of conduct.
The code of conduct has evolved over the years and no doubt will continue to evolve as tourism and development increase to the area.
Operators, facilitators and skippers are encouraged to become citizen scientists by collecting baseline data and images of our local Dolphins of Ponta, Humpback Whales and other marine mega fauna encountered. Training for data collection and swim facilitation is available on request by our team.
CODES OF CONDUCT
Adhere to a one boat policy, follow a 20 minute viewing time & have experienced guides in water. A two drop, no touch, chase & dive down policy should be respected. Approach calmly & slowly. Rest time for dolphins between in-water encounters should be given. Swimming with newborns not permitted. Avoid in-water encounters with whales. The use of flash photography & underwater scooters are not permitted. The same applies to whale-sharks and manta rays.
FISHERMAN & DRONES
FISHERMAN are asked to be aware & take care! Being dolphin friendly includes pulling in your lines when dolphin/whales are present & never trawling through a pod. Do not discard your tackle at sea & use non-stainless steel fishing hooks.
DRONES - recent research shows that flying drones above marine mammals causes stress.
Maintain a slow, steady speed & keep a look out. Refrain from altering course to approach. Move off if signs of distress are seen; change of direction, fast erratic swimming & tail slapping.
No Approach within 300m of marine mammals.
No swimming with marine mammals.
Avoid driving in backline.
RUBBISH & LITTER
KEEP IT CLEAN Do not discard rubbish at sea or leave on the beach. Thousands of marine mammals, birds & other sea life die annually from plastic ingestion & entanglement.