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WDC welcomes two new Florida businesses to Dolphin SMART

WDC, one of the founding partners of the Dolphin SMART program, welcomes two new Florida businesses to the voluntary outreach program. Odyssey Cruises and Captain Dennis Wilson Charters in Tarpon Springs join 16 other Dolphin SMART participating operators in the program designed to promote the conservation of dolphins in coastal waterways through responsible viewing and public stewardship.

Originating in Key West, Florida, Dolphin SMART was launched by WDC, NOAA Fisheries Service, 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. Dolphin SMART recognizes businesses that responsibly advertise and view wild dolphins and educate their patrons on dolphin conservation. Odyssey Cruises and Captain Dennis Wilson are committed to bringing responsible viewing to waterways around Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Viewing dolphins safely and responsibly, and advertising responsible viewing practices, are cornerstones 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.

There are now 18 recognized businesses in Florida and Hawaii in the steadily growing Dolphin SMART program. WDC encourages visitors to these areas to “look before you book” and support wild dolphin conservation by patronizing a Dolphin SMART business. A list of Dolphin SMART businesses is available online.

Participating businesses display a Dolphin SMART flag and decal with the current calendar year. Participants are regularly evaluated to ensure they continue to voluntarily meet program standards.

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.