Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
Clear the list graphic

Clear WDC’s Amazon Wishlist for Giving Tuesday

The holiday season is knocking on our doors and Giving Tuesday is coming up soon!...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...
The Codfather being good with Anvil kick feeding right next to them_0761 branded

Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

After countless hours behind the computer, bountiful snacks, and a few stress relieving walks with...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
65556ab2635fdab7b4e12265b9623d64

Stream to Sea: Orca Action Month 2022

This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising...
We need whale poo ? WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
Nat Geo for Disney+ Luis Lamar

Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...

WDC welcomes another Dolphin SMART participant in Hawaii

WDC and program partners have continued expansion of the Dolphin SMART conservation program in Hawaii to the island of Maui. Dolphin SMART is a voluntary outreach and stewardship program that awards annual recognition to tour operators who responsibly view wild dolphins and educate their patrons on dolphin conservation.

Trilogy Excursions is the most recent operator to earn Dolphin SMART recognition in Hawaii, and as the fifth Dolphin SMART business in the state, marks the Program’s expansion to a third island there. Trilogy Excursions joins Hawaii Nautical and their subsidiary Port Waikiki Cruises, Ocean Joy Cruises, and Dolphin Star on Oahu, and Holoholo Charters on Kauai. With the addition of Trilogy Excursions, there are currently seventeen participating operators in Florida, Alabama, and Hawaii.

Dolphin SMART originated in Key West, Florida, and was launched by WDC, NOAA Fisheries Service and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the Dolphin Ecology Project in 2007. The Program expanded to Alabama in 2008 before launching in Hawaii in 2011.

Viewing dolphins from a responsible distance is a cornerstone of the Dolphin SMART program. Close viewing of wild dolphins may disrupt important natural behaviors such as resting, feeding, and nursing and result in negative impacts to the health of dolphin groups and their young.

The “SMART” acronym is a reminder of the basic principles of dolphin viewing etiquette:
Stay at least 50 yards from dolphins,
Move away slowly if the dolphins show signs of disturbance,
Always put your vessel engine in neutral when dolphins are near,
Refrain from feeding, touching, or swimming with wild dolphins,
Teach others to be Dolphin SMART.

In recent years, there has been an increase in human dolphin interactions in the main Hawaiian Islands. These activities primarily target Hawaiian spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris longirostris), which are routinely found close to shore in shallow coves and bays where they congregate during the day to rest, care for their young and avoid predators before traveling to deeper water at night to hunt for food. Commercial operators that offer “swim with wild dolphin” tours and individuals that swim or paddle from shore interact with dolphins during times when the animals are at rest. Hawaiian spinner dolphins are a subspecies found only in the Hawaiian Islands and are genetically distinct from other spinner populations, such as those in the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

WDC is concerned that these human activities displace spinner dolphins from their resting areas and may have population and individual-level effects, and supports a variety of measures to protect spinner dolphins throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Scientific studies have documented human disturbance of Hawaiian spinner dolphins during their resting periods along the west coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, most notably in and around Kealakekua Bay. Newly-published research supports our concerns regarding disturbance and potential displacement of localized spinner dolphin populations within Hawaii through increasing human interactions.

WDC encourages visitors to Hawaii to book with a Dolphin SMART operator. Vessels of participating operators carry a Dolphin SMART flag and decal with current calendar year. A list of Dolphin SMART operators is available online at www.dolphinsmart.org.