Take A Look, But Don't Touch
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Do swim tours harm dolphins in any way?
Swim-with-dolphin programs are controversial. Environmental groups agree that captive programs are stressful for dolphins, but they are divided about programs that permit tourists to swim with wild dolphins:
- Some ecotourism groups say it's fine as long as the number of participants is restricted
- The practice has been banned in Costa Rica because of problems with inexperienced and unethical tour operators.
- Researchers observed that in areas where there is a high volume of swim tours, dolphins abandon their traditional habitats for calmer waters.
- Nursing and mating patterns may be disrupted by such contact
- It was noted that dolphins tend to stay visible longer when people remain in their boats. Until there is more consensus about the impact of this activity, it may be prudent and rewarding to keep a respectful distance.
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