Dolphins and other coastal wildlife face increasing threats from interactions with boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing activities. In Sarasota Bay, more than 40% of resident dolphins have exhibited behaviors of concern, including begging from anglers or boaters. Close encounters with boats or fishing gear can injure or kill dolphins, and repeated human disturbance disrupts key natural behaviors including feeding, nursing, or resting. Exposure to human sources of food worsens the problem by encouraging risky abnormal behaviors such as begging, scavenging, and taking bait or catch directly from active fishing gear, which put dolphins and their dependent young in harm’s way.
The good news is that you can help keep wild dolphins safe — just follow a few simple tips!
- Never feed wild dolphins. It harms them and it’s illegal.
- Stay at least 50 yards away.
- Reel in your fishing line if dolphins appear.
- Change locations if dolphins show interest in bait or catch.
- Release catch quietly away from dolphins when and where it is possible to do so without violating any state or federal fishing regulations.
- Check gear and terminal tackle to make sure it won’t break off easily and, if your line does break, be sure to collect anything left behind in mangroves or on docks.
- Use circle and corrodible hooks and avoid braided fishing line.
- Stash your trash in a lidded container on your boat until you can get to shore and dispose of it safely in a place where it will not blow back into the water.