Our guidelines for encounters with wild dolphins

  • 1.  Do not chase or pursue the dolphins. Be careful not to disturb important activities such as feeding, courtship and nursing.
  • 2.  Always put out a dive flag when anyone is in the water.  Remember that boats and snorkelers are not easy to see in the water.
  • 3. Do not feed or touch the dolphins, either from the water or from a boat.  Feeding and touching dolphins disrupts their natural behavioral patterns and it puts young dolphins that are not “boat-wise” at risk from boating injuries. It puts dolphins at risk of inhaling boats exhaust fumes. Dolphins can also become sick from eating contaminated fish and get injured by fishing hooks. Feeding dolphins, like chasing them, is illegal and can cost you a hefty fine.
  • 4. If a dolphin approaches you while you are swimming, do not reach out and try to touch him. These dolphins are wild animals and rarely tolerate physical contact from humans. Trying to touch or grab a dolphin is illegal and is virtually guaranteed to scare them away.
  • 5. Dolphins’ interest in people is frequently based on curiosity. Diving, twisting, spiraling and making unusual sounds underwater often succeed in attracting a dolphin’s attention. Be playful and active in a non-aggressive way.
  • 6. Spend as much time as possible underwater. Dolphins live underwater.
  • 7. Swim in a fluid and as graceful a style as you can. Avoid using your hands for swimming as much as possible. Dolphins do not have hands and many dolphins avoid people who wave their arms in front of them.
  • 8. Try swimming with a friend and playing underwater games (follow the leader) with one or more friends. Dolphins are social creatures and are sometimes curious about our social interactions.
  • 9. Dolphins are often curious about our children. Do not allow children to swim alone with dolphins. Dolphin’s games are sometimes rough and aggressive; many children can become frightened in this situation. Dolphins keep their youngest close to them when exploring something new. We should follow this example.
  • 10. Remember that RESPECT is the key to any interaction. Dolphins must initiate any interaction and they have the right to terminate it. Most dolphin encounters last less than 1 minute. Do not pursue a dolphin either in the water or with your boat.

In order to decrease the pressure caused by the dolphin tour industry on wild dolphins in Bay County, Water Planet has designed an educational training program for dolphin tour captains and guides.  This program is called BadToFeed.

Educational Awareness

The purpose of our educational dolphin swim program in Panama City Beach is to stimulate awareness about the delicate balance of the marine environment. We do not sell a thrilling experience using trained animals, we show you the real thing by giving you the opportunity to encounter wild dolphins on their territory in their own terms.

Human/dolphin interactions are governed by a set of laws and guidelines, which you need to be aware of if you want to swim with dolphins in Panama City Beach. It is illegal to harass, feed, chase and touch marine mammals in the wild and also detrimental to them.

At Water Planet, we will take the time to educate you before every dolphin watch and swim trip. We will then take you out in the Gulf of Mexico, where the in-water encounters usually take place.

Most of us want to swim with dolphins but the question is do dolphins want to swim with us? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and we need to respect that in order to avoid harassing them. Education before encounters with a wild animal is most important. We need to remember that we are like guests in their environment.

We will take the time to teach you important facts about dolphins because we want you to feel that your experience makes sense. Just ask and we will tell you about dolphin’s anatomy. We will explain the dolphin sonar and echolocation. We will tell you about courtship, mating, dolphin birth, male female calf relationships, cooperative fishing, fishing techniques, social structure, communication, whistles and vocalization.

There is a set of laws, rules, guidelines and etiquette governing the interaction with wild dolphins and we will give you the information you need to have a safe, respectful and enjoyable experience.

Water Planet Boats along Shell Island

Our dolphin watch and dolphin swim tour is very personalized. We will help the participants prepare for the complexity of the dolphin’s world. The ocean is their home and their environment. Basic education about dolphin physiology, social habits and environment is important in order to protect their lifestyle. While we observe them, dolphins could be feeding, courting, nursing, or teaching their young. These behaviors must be understood and respected.

Too often, swimmers are unprepared and anxious to get what they came for. They are overconfident, impatient, and aggressive. We teach patience and respect, which are the ingredients for this intense and beautiful experience.

The same educational efforts and respect policies are applied during our therapeutic programs for children with disabilities. We try to share with the children and their families our enthusiasm for the beauty and for the balance of the marine environment. It reflects on the way we conduct our therapy sessions and on the content of our expressive art and music sessions.

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