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Charter boat joins Dolphin SMART program

Sea Bear Aquatic Adventures has joined the Dolphin SMART program after successfully meeting standards that promote responsible viewing of dolphins in the wild, the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary has announced.

Dolphin SMART is a coordinated effort of the sanctuary, the Fisheries Service and their partners to help protect wild dolphins in the Keys.

“We are pleased to welcome Sea Bear Aquatic Adventures as the newest Dolphin SMART operator,” said Cmdr. Dave Score, sanctuary superintendent, in a news release. “The Dolphin SMART program highlights tour operators who promote responsible and sustainable viewing of wild dolphins, ensuring their health and wellbeing for future generations.”

The Dolphin SMART program was developed by the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA Fisheries’ Protected Resources Program, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and Dolphin Ecology Project. The project is funded by NOAA Fisheries and the “Protect Wild Dolphins” license plate funds through Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. The acronym “SMART” 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; and
  • Teach others to be Dolphin SMART.
  • The other three operators are Key West Eco-tours, Dolphin Safari Charter and Sunny Days Catamarans.

    "The continuing success of our Dolphin SMART program is very gratifying," said Stacey Horstman, NOAA Fisheries’ bottlenose dolphin conservation coordinator, in the sanctuary’s release. "Safeguarding the local population of wild dolphins requires a community-based approach involving all our various stakeholders, and we greatly appreciate the commitment Dolphin SMART operators are making to help protect the dolphins for future generations." Dolphin SMART-approved charters receive flags and stickers and permission to use the Dolphin SMART logo in their advertising. Each year, participants are evaluated to ensure they continue to meet program standards.

    For more information, visit www.dolphinsmart.org or contact program coordinator Megan Harber at 809-4700.

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