'Swimming with dolphins' tourism might be banned in Hawaii
Sunday, August 28, 2016, 1:35 PM - Warm, tropical destinations are an ever-popular vacation spot for North Americans -- but not only for obvious reasons. Though most do enjoy a hot day by the ocean, sunshine-soaked destinations also have another growing area of appeal: animal tourism.
The idea of having close contact with wild and potentially dangerous animals has gained increasing popularity in recent years, but U.S. officials say animal tourism is disrupting wildlife and their natural cycle.
In Hawaii, the federal government is now proposing a ban to the state's "swim with dolphins" programs, protecting the state's natural wildlife.
U.S. officials from the National Marine Fisheries Service are now proposing a new set of rules that would limit human interaction with Hawaiian spinner dolphins to 45 meters, Mother Nature Network (MNN) reports.
While lively at night in search of food, these dolphins often retreat to shallow waters near shore during the day to rest. They are known for their nurturing and social personalities, making them especially vulnerable to captivity.
"People chase the dolphins with selfie sticks," Victor Lozano, owner of Oahu's Dolphin Excursions, told The Guardian.
"You go on safari – you don’t go out to the lion and try to pet it.”
Other countries have received heat from the public for their malpractices in animal tourism.
Thailand is known for its elephants, many of which serve rides for hours on end; Indonesia has been under fire for drugging a lion to serve as a photo prop to tourists; and the Caribbean, like Hawaii, has been a topic of debate for holding wild dolphins captive so tourists can ride them -- a process that often entails irreparable physical and emotional damage.
If the regulations in Hawaii are passed, the ban would cover all water space within two nautical miles of the Hawaiian Islands, including the waters between Lanai, Maui, and Kahoolawe.
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