Swimming with the Dolphins ruins their days and possibly their lives
“Our study found that whenever the tourist boats were present the dolphins were very unsettled and spent less time feeding, socialising or resting,” said Dr Per Berggren.
“This has a negative impact, not only on individual animals, but on the population as a whole and long term it could be devastating.”
The latest findings published in the journal Endangered Species Research are the latest to suggest that dolphins are traumatised by humans.
Lori Marino, a neuroscientist at Emory university in Atlanta, said they could suffer “psychological problems” linked to swimming with tourists.
Dolphin-watching was introduced off the South coast of Zanzibar in 1992. Today it is one of the few places in the world where tourism has completely replaced the traditional dolphin hunt – an activity which threatened the local population of around 150 bottlenose dolphins.
Watching the dolphins over a period of 40 days, the research team found that in the presence of the tourist boats, the time the dolphins spent resting dropped from 38 per cent of the time to 10 per cent while the time they spent foraging and socialising dropped from 19 and 10 per cent to just 10 and 4 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, travelling behaviour – or overall movement – more than doubled in proportion, from 33 to 77 per cent, becoming by far the most dominant activity state during interactions with tourist boats.