To Save Its Bottle Nose Dolphins, New Zealand Banned Swimming With Them Near Bay of Islands
The New Zealand government has banned tourists from swimming with the beloved bottlenose dolphins off the Bay of Islands in the northernmost peninsula of the country's north island.
The dolphins are essentially dying from too much frolicking with tourists and have been classified by New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DoC) as endangered. Heavy boat traffic has the dolphins spending too much time socializing with tourists rather than performing critical behaviors like eating, sleeping and nursing their young, according to the Independent. A recent study by the New Zealand DoC said that human interaction was "having a significant impact on the population's resting and feeding behavior."
The dolphins live in a sub-tropical area of New Zealand known for its stunning beaches and its warm water. The popularity of the area as a tourist destination has caused the dolphin population to plummet from 270 in 1999 to a current estimate of 31, a fall of almost 90 percent, as the Telegraph reported.
The numbers in the report are bleak. A group of only 19 bottlenose dolphins regularly visit the Bay of Islands. From that group, there is a 75 percent mortality rate among their calves. That is the highest mortality rate not only in New Zealand, but also internationally, in the wild and in captivity, according to the Telegraph.
The researchers also noted that the dolphins spent 86 percent of daylight hours near one boat. To change that trend, the DoC not only banned tourists from swimming with dolphins, but also mandated that tour boats may interact with dolphins for no more than 20 minutes. Also, all tour operators will have to visit the dolphins in either the morning or the afternoon so there is a significant chunk of time where the dolphins are left alone, as the Guardian reported.
"The dolphins often swim towards boats themselves and you simply can't put a barrier around them or monitor every interaction they have," said Sue Reed-Thomas, the DOC's northern North Island director of operations, as the Independent reported. "Everyone who puts a boat on the water in the Bay of Islands needs to be aware of the problem so they play their part in protecting the local dolphin population."
In a plea to save their industry, tour operators warned that the new ban would cripple tourism in the area. They also said that fewer tour operators on the water means fewer people monitoring how private boats interact with the vulnerable dolphin population, according to the Guardian.
The DoC does not seem too sympathetic as it is considering partnering with Maori tribes and researchers to start a marine mammal sanctuary in the Bay of Islands.
Tourists can still swim with dolphins in New Zealand's south island where the populations are much healthier, according to the Guardian.
The aptly named diabolical ironclad beetle (Phloeodes diabolicus) has an exoskeleton so strong, it can survive being pecked by birds and even run over by cars. When early entomologists tried to mount them as specimens, BBC News explained, that exoskeleton would snap or bend their pins.
- How to Save Insects - EcoWatch ›
- New Report Documents Global Insect Decline - EcoWatch ›
- How a Plastic-Eating Caterpillar Could Help Solve the World's ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Singapore Will Plant One Million Trees by 2030 - EcoWatch ›
- Australia to Build the World's Largest Solar Farm to Power Singapore ›
- Giant Water Battery Cuts University's Energy Costs by $100 Million ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
By Tara Lohan
In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.
Transmission lines from the Churchill Falls generating station in Labrador. Douglas Spott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Atlantic sturgeon were brought to the brink of extension in the 20th century and are now are listed as an endangered species. NOAA
Near Happy Valley-Goose Bay on the Churchill (Grand) River downstream from Muskrat Falls. Douglas Sprott / CC BY-NC 2.0
Construction of the Site C dam in British Columbia in 2017. Jason Woodhead / CC BY 2.0
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island is the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Dennis Schroeder / NREL / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.
- Earth Is Hurtling Towards a Catastrophe Worse Than the Dinosaur ... ›
- Are We Doomed If We Don't Curb Carbon Emissions by 2030 ... ›
- Humans Release 40 to 100x More CO2 Than Volcanoes, Major ... ›