The Marine Mammal Protection Act
(MMPA) prohibits the 'taking' of marine mammals. The term 'taking' means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or feed or attempt any of these activities. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) encourages the public to keep a distance of 50 yards from wild dolphins. The Dolphin Project adheres to this law and reports any violations. On several occasions there have been observations of wild dolphin abuse during surveys. TDP teams were able to document the violations and report them to NMFS and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
TDP volunteers assist NOAA in distributing the "DO NOT FEED DOLPHIN signs (seen to the left) to marinas, community docks and private clubs on the coast. If you know of a location in need of a sign, please notify INFO@thedolphinproject.org.
TDP distributes brochures to the public that explains the proper procedures for viewing marine mammals safely and legally. TDP also educates the public through its Education Outreach program which our volunteers bring to schools and organizations across Georgia and lower South Carolina.
Feeding and harassing wild dolphins alters their natural behavior. Mother dolphins that feed from boats will teach their young to feed from boats. This can be dangerous and deadly. People feed the dolphins things that are not natural for their diet such as marshmallows and hot dogs, even non-food items such as plastics. Dead fish and discarded bait are not normal for dolphins to eat. Dolphins hunt for their food, they are not scavengers. Such items will make dolphins sick. Going to boats can be injurious and fatal for dolphins when they are hit by the boats and propellers.
Human interaction with dolphins can also make them sick. Dolphins are mammals like humans. Disease can spread quickly through dolphin populations.