A final rule prohibits swimming with, approaching, or remaining within 50 yards of spinner dolphins. A proposed rule may establish time-area closures of select nearshore resting areas.
Like all animals, Hawaiian spinner dolphins need rest. Spinner dolphins are nocturnal feeders that perform critical resting behaviors during the day while in safe, nearshore areas. But for decades, spinner dolphins in Hawaiʻi have experienced intense viewing pressure from commercial and recreational wildlife viewers seeking close encounters with the charismatic marine mammals.
The natural behavior patterns of the animals are massively disrupted, which most people are not even aware of.
But that is over now: The USA has decided that from October 28, 2021, people will not be allowed to approach the spinner dolphins that are resident there less than 50 meters near the coast.
This new regulation will now require the public to respect spinner dolphins’ space so they can shelter undisturbed in their resting habitat close to shore.
The US government is thereby legally implementing the ban on contact between the marine mammals and us.
No swimming with, approaching, or remaining within 50 yards of spinner dolphins
This has been confirmed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA. The new law applies to swimmers, divers, boats, and also to drones that are within two nautical miles of the coast of Hawaii’s main islands and designated waters between the islands of Lāna‘i, Maui and Kahoʻolawe.
NOAA Fisheries is also proposing to establish time-area closures to reduce disturbance in five nearshore areas designated as essential daytime habitats for spinner dolphins.
This regulation would prohibit entering restricted areas between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily in parts of Kealakekua, Hōnaunau, Kauhakō (Ho‘okena), and Makako Bays on Hawai‘i Island, and La Perouse Bay on Maui.
Why Are these rules necessary?
Spinner dolphins are nocturnal and hunt in offshore waters at night. During the day, they use areas close to shore that have optimal environmental conditions to socialize, nurture their young, shelter from predators, and rest in preparation for nightly hunting. These specific areas are considered spinner dolphin essential daytime habitats.
Interactions with people disturb this calm and create a permanent state of alertness.
As a result, the animals spend an immense amount of energy on this, which they then lack for other things, such as hunting.
This closes a vicious circle that only the dolphins suffer from.
Since this is a proposed rule, a decision on whether to finalize the rule will not happen until after the public has an opportunity to comment.
The public comment period for the proposed time-area closures will be open until December 27, 2021, 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.
During their daily resting period, Hawaiian spinner dolphins are exposed to disturbance from people seeking close interactions. A new regulation prohibits swimming with, approaching, or remaining within 50 yards of a Hawaiian spinner dolphin, and a new rule has been proposed for time area closures in the dolphins’ essential daytime habitats. Shown here: Kayakers getting close to spinner dolphins. Credit: Julian Tyne.
We very much welcome this step in Hawai 💖🐬
Dolphins are highly sensitive creatures that do not depend on human encounters.
So it is only more than right, important, and just to leave them alone.
We appeal to all governments of the world, in whose territory interacting with dolphins is still allowed for everyone, to forbid this, also following the impeccable model of Hawaii.
My best regards to all, Venus