Spring break is upon us and this often includes trips to the beach. Encountering dolphins and other marine life in the wild can be a once-in-a lifetime experience.  There are a few simple guidelines that you can follow to prevent human/wildlife conflict while promoting a positive and memorable experience.  These tips from NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries can serve as a guide to recreating responsibly.  

  1. Keep my pets home or on a leash: Before you take your pet on an outdoor adventure, make sure they are permitted to be there, and if they are, keep them on a leash at all times! When pets get too close to wildlife, especially marine mammals, all animals are at risk of harm, stress, and even disease.
  2. Lead by example: What are some ways you can lead by example while enjoying the outdoors? By helping others to become responsible wildlife watchers, we protect both people and animals. Show respect for wildlife and other visitors, speak up about wildlife viewing violations, and choose businesses who recreate responsibly.
  3. Report wildlife that seems sick or abandoned: Plenty of marine animals love to spend time on the beach to rest or eat, just like us! Seeing wildlife on the shore is not always cause for concern, but if you see an animal that appears sick or abandoned, make sure to give it plenty of space and contact your local wildlife authorities. Contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922 in Florida.
  4. Keep snacks to yourself: Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to sharing food with animals! Wildlife are perfectly capable of finding their own food. Feeding wildlife often does more harm than good and is actually illegal for many species, so keep those snacks to yourself!
  5. Lend a hand with trash removal: Each year, billions of pounds of waste enter our ocean. This debris can be ingested by wildlife causing them harm or even death. To do your part try reusing and even refusing plastics. Make sure to properly dispose of your garbage and recycle whenever possible as well pick up any debris you see!
  6. Keep my hands to myself: You might be tempted to pet a seal basking in the sun but getting too close or startling them can evoke aggressive behavior and seriously injure them as well as you. Be sure to stand at a safe distance to get that perfect photo as touching, feeding, or harassing wild animals is often illegal and can ruin both yours and the animals’ day.
  7. Hang back and enjoy the view: Giving wildlife their space is SO important! Getting too close to wildlife exerts the precious energy they rely on for hunting, attracting mates, and raising their young. By hanging back from our wildlife, we can help to keep them healthy and stress-free.

Finally, we encourage the public to show their support for wildlife on social media by taking the pledge and share this information with a friend. https://go.usa.gov/xH385.

Cited: https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wildlife-viewing/tool-kit.html

Laura Tiu