Swimming with bottlenose dolphins is a favorite sport of tourists who arrive in North Island’s Bay of Islands but the government has imposed a ban. Its intention is to preserve the numbers because contact with humans is having a bad effect on these mammals. Their population is dwindling and they are struggling for survival. Research undertaken by the department of conservation [DoC] reveals the attraction between humans and the bottlenose dolphins is “having a significant impact on the population’s resting and feeding behavior.” These species love to swim in coastal regions where they get close to humans.

The DoC says their numbers in the region have dropped by 66% since 1990. Right now, there is a core group of only 19 and it comes regularly to the area. A 75 percent mortality rate among their calves is a matter of concern.

The Guardian clarifies that the ban is applicable to tour operators in the North Island’s Bay of Islands. This location is popular with tourists who Travel here to enjoy its warm climate and surroundings like the golden beaches. The ban does not apply to other parts of New Zealand.

There are guidelines defined by DoC

DoC has already issued guidelines for tour operators.

There is now a limit on the period of interaction between humans and bottlenose dolphins. Earlier it used to be 30 minutes and it is now only 20 minutes. Another is on the duration of stay – those who organize the tours must plan for either morning or afternoon sessions. That will ensure the mammals are not troubled throughout the day.

The authorities are also exploring possibilities of creating a marine mammal sanctuary in the Bay of Islands.

The Guardian goes on to add that tour operators feel such restrictions could have an adverse effect on tourism.

They must realize if the numbers continue to reduce, there might not be any bottlenose dolphins left. The fate of these species is uncertain. Anyway, tourists who enjoy swimming with them will have the option to swim with common or dusky dolphins in tours operated in the South Island.

Bottlenose dolphins endangered in New Zealand

According to Independent UK, there is now a ban in New Zealand on tourists swimming with bottlenose dolphins. This is because they fall in the category of endangered species in the country in view of falling numbers in the Bay of Islands. Heavy boat traffic is depriving the mammals of “feeding, nursing their young and sleeping.” This is a result of the dolphins spending most of their time in socializing with humans and diving.

Researchers say they spent nearly 86 percent of daylight hours near to at least one boat. Massey University conducted the study between December 2012 and April 2015. It identified a population of 96 bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands that was a 66 percent decline compared to figures of 2002. This is alarming and sounds alarm bells for their survival.