NOAA and Partners Recognize Newest Business to Join Dolphin SMART Program

Tour Company Pledges to Follow Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

March 5, 2009

NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Fisheries Service and their partners today accepted the fourth charter operator into a program created to help protect wild dolphins in the Keys. Sea Bear Aquatic Adventures officially joined the Dolphin SMART program after successfully meeting standards that promote responsible viewing of dolphins in the wild.

Dolphins swiming in waves.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

“We are pleased to welcome Sea Bear Aquatic Adventures as the newest Dolphin SMART operator,” said Cmdr. Dave Score, sanctuary superintendent. “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:

“The continuing success of our Dolphin SMART program is very gratifying,” said Stacey Horstman, NOAA Fisheries’ bottlenose dolphin conservation coordinator. “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. By looking for the current year on flags and logos and checking the updated participant list, visitors to the Florida Keys seeking the thrill of seeing dolphins in the wild can ensure the tour operator they select is Dolphin SMART. For more information, visit the Dolphin SMART Web site or contact program coordinator Megan Harber at 305-809-4700.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,896 square nautical miles of important marine habitat, including maritime heritage resources, as well as coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities, and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary. NOAA Fisheries has additional responsibilities for protecting wild dolphins under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.