Dolphin tour companies could face new regulationsUPDATED 7:09 PM HST Aug 20, 2013Video Transcript
islands-- is prompting closer federal scrutiny. Tonight KITV's Catherine Cruz takes a look at why scientists are throwing the spotlight on what is reckless versus responsible viewing of spinner dolphins. Laura McCue 7:04 - 7: -"It's something that's on alot of people's bucket list to swim with the dolphins." Laura McCue says people are willing to pay top dollar for dolphin swims.. And about a dozen companies on Oahu's west side are taking the bait... offering tours out of Ko'Olina and Waianae. - Shane Griffin 11:00 -11:16 - "Our operation and the other boats, we alone go out two or three times a day. That could be a thousand times a year and multiply that by ten or eleven boats that's a lost of disturbance," That potential for dolphin disturbance is prompting a new National Fisheries Service campaign.. Dubbed DOPLHIN SMART ... a kind-of "seal of approval" to discourage the harrassing of dolphins protected under the marine mammal protection act. Ocean Joy was one of the first companies to sign on. Shane Griffin draws the line at Swimming with Dolphins. He estimates he's turned away millions of dollars by sticking to that rule. - Shane Griffin 12:30 - 12: 45 - "I wish more owners of activities join in with us on this because we feel over the last nine years we have seen the number of dolohins who are constantly here are less constant and even smaller in numbers." Smaller in number, perhaps. But they still draw a crowd. CRUZ 29:49- 52 -"With all these boats out here, it's a bit of a waiting game.B ut you dont have to wait long," The dolphin show begins right on cue... That's when Dolphin Smart's checklist kicks in. - Laura McCue 3:34 -3:43 - We want to make sure they turn off engines. Don't approach closer than 50 yards, or circle and cut off their path and limit their time to a half hour. On this day, we see one company doing none of the above. It cuts in, dropping snorklers in the water without stopping. - Laura McCue 2:34- 238 - "We want you to go out to see dolphins in natural behavoirs, not disturnbance behaviuors" McCue has had sucess with four tour operators on Oahu and Kauai agreeing to fly under the dolphin smart banner. - mero and katherine samuel 33: - 33: - "We actually choose this cruise because they follow the rules and we really felt that was important. No regrets? No regrets at all," Maui and Big Island companies are next in line. Scientists want the companies to understand what's behind their guidelines. That includes some basics.. Like spinning. McCue says it could be a sign the dolphins are bothered. And you have to understand their nature... The pods spend their nights fishing in deep waters and their days in cruise mode. Laura McCue 2: 04- 2:10 "This is a critical time for them in the daytime hours. They are caring for their young. They are resting, They are avoiding predators," - Laura McCue 4:41-4:49 -"They actually only sleep with one side of their brain at a time so the other time is to breathe be alert for predators things like that" McCue hopes tour operators will also be alert... - Shane Griffin 13:40 -13 57 - "They do spread out along the coast into smaller groups ten to 30-40. But when they get together and you see 150- 250 dolphins at one time, you never get tired of it," The hope is the dolphins don't tire of the attention. cc 4 news The National Marine Fisheries has not gone so far as to BAN swimming with dolphins. The agency has issued many warnings about harrassment of dolphins, and so far has issued only one notice of violation.