The prevailing public perception of dolphins leads to expectations of friendly interactions with attention-seeking wild animals. Dolphins in captivity might seem to form intimate relations with their trainers while performing fun and exciting stunts. Dolphins are even involved in therapeutic and educational programmes aimed at to helping people overcome their difficulties. Here is why you should not attempt to swim or dive with dolphins:
- You run the risk of harassing the animals while trying to position the boat in such a way that would enable a person to dive close to the group. Dolphins can move through water much faster than any swimmer so chasing them around is not going to give you a chance for a closer look.
- Should you succeed in approaching the animals, bear in mind this situation is not safe for you or the dolphins. These are wild, untrained animals with unpredictable behaviour and should be treated with care and respect. People need medical attention due to bites and body strikes inflicted during such interactions.
- While people in the water may become objects of interest for nearby dolphins, their curiosity should not be misinterpreted as friendly behaviour. A swimmer immersed in their habitat is foremost a foreign and unfamiliar object that needs to be investigated. By trying to seek out their attention, you are disrupting their natural behaviour and forcing them to abandon their current activities such as resting, feeding and socialising. You may force resting animals to move and expend energy, often to unfavourable areas where they are exposed to even more stress. If the pursuit persists, small calves can be strained to keep up with the pod.
- The repeated presence of people in the water can also have the effect of decreasing fear of human interaction making them more vulnerable to boat strikes, entanglement in
fishing gear or even intentional harassment.
- Both humans and dolphins are mammals. Although sea water acts as an effective disinfectant, interaction with wild dolphins may result in disease transfer. These may present serious health threats to dolphins and humans alike.
- Finally, swimming with dolphins represents harassment – you do not want to get a fine.