New Zealand bans swimming with dolphins

Posted on 30 August 2019

The New Zealand government has officially banned tourists from swimming with wild bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands – an enclave made up of more than 140 islands alongside the country’s North Island. The decision was taken because of the negative impact that human interaction has on these mammals.


According to a statement from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, “research shows interaction with bottlenose dolphins is having a significant impact on the population’s resting and feeding behaviour and that people are ‘loving the dolphins too much’”.

“The local Bay of Islands population has fallen by 66% since 1999 to a core group of only 19 dolphins frequently visiting the Bay of Islands now. Latest research shows a 75% calf mortality rate – the highest seen in New Zealand, internationally or in captivity”

On 1 July, new permits for commercial operators that take tourists to view dolphins by boat came into effect. The new rules reduce viewing and interaction time with the mammals. Additionally, the location for dolphin interactions have been limited and swimming with bottlenose dolphins has been banned completely.

Another condition of the permit is that tour operators will be restricted to viewing the animals in the morning or afternoon only. This gives the dolphins space and time free of any human interaction.
Below is a video shot in 2018, showing the popular activity that is now illegal.

Image source: Barbara Louw

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