Be Respectful

How Can You Protect Wild Marine Mammals? By Respecting the Wild in Wildlife!

Keep your distance. Remain a safe and respectful distance from animals. Use binoculars or zoom lenses to get a close-up look. If on the water, avoid excessive boat speed or abrupt changes in speed or direction.  Stay fully clear of a dolphin’s, whale’s, or manatee’s path. If approached by these animals, put the engine in neutral and allow them to pass.

Limit time spent observing animals. Half an hour is reasonable.  Chances are you haven’t been the only one to approach the animal that day.

Stay clear of mothers with young.  Mothers with young are especially vulnerable to human disturbance. Never herd, chase, or separate a mother from its young.

Resist the temptation to “save” animals, especially “orphans.” Mom is usually watching from a safe distance.  If an animal appears sick, get professional help by calling animal control officers or, if appropriate, a local zoo or aquarium.

Never surround an animal. Always leave an “escape” route.  Dolphins, whales, and manatees should not be trapped between boats, or between boats and shore. Keep pets on a leash or leave them at home.  Both pets and wild animals can be hurt if bitten. 

Don't Litter. Plastic bags, six pack rings, nets, hooks and fishing line create hazards for wild animals in the ocean. When enjoying nature and watching wild animals, carry along a trash bag and dispose of it properly when you return to shore.

Do not touch or feed wild marine mammals. To do so is a federal offense under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) which was designed to protect marine mammals. The MMPA makes it illegal to feed, pursue, or chase wild marine mammals in US waters.


Wild animals will naturally forage for food in the easiest way possible and will often congregate in areas where people might be tempted to feed them. Wild marine mammals who accept food (or, in the case of manatees, water) from people, lose their natural wariness of humans. These animals are more likely to swim too close to boats where they are often injured by propellers or entangled in fishing gear. Boat strikes and entanglement have been known to be fatal to wild dolphins, manatees and even baleen whales. Even worse, this behavior can be passed on from mother to offspring, producing generations of animals who, by learning to beg for food, haven't learned how to properly hunt. Illness is also a problem if spoiled food or the wrong types are being fed. If you truly love wild dolphins, whales and manatees, please don't feed them!

For more information or to report harrassment or violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, please call the enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964

For more information on bottlenose dolphin conservation, visit the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office or the Dolphin SMART website.

To report a stranded animal in the Southeast United States, please call 1-877-WHALE HELP


Dolphin Connection reminds all patrons that the close interactions with, and feeding of, dolphins depicted on our website are legally permissible only because these animals are in human care under a federal permit. Attempting the same behavior in the wild is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act ( and can result in serious harm to both humans and animals. Visit to learn how to responsibly view dolphins in the wild or book a dolphin excursion with a recognized Dolphin SMART business.

Dolphin SMART and wild dolphin conservation logo

Share Your Experience

Dolphin Connection strives to Inspire Conservation. We believe that meeting our dolphins can change the way someone sees the world. Maybe they’ll be more likely to pick up a piece of trash or participate in a beach clean-up. How are you making a positive impact on our planet? We can’t wait to hear your stories!

A button directing to a share your experience page.