Feeding wild dolphins is a big no-no. Find out why it’s so important to keep wildlife wild – including marine life.
In the seminal Sci-Fi BBC Radio Play and feature film adaptation of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, with the impending doom of Earth, all the world’s dolphins – the planet’s second most intelligent species ahead of humans – fled into the sky in search of a new home singing the song, ’So long and thanks for all the fish!’
While this hilarious cult-classic has a lot to say about humanity, it is important to note that dolphins indeed should not be fed by people.
Why shouldn’t you feed wild dolphins?
Dolphins, including those found in the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary in the city’s north-west waters, are wild animals and are more than capable of catching their own food.
Many people see Facebook and Instagram videos of wild dolphins being fed in other locations around the world and think it’s okay, or by feeding the dolphins they are ‘helping’ the animal.
But did you know that feeding wild dolphins actually does more harm than good?
Dolphins are smart animals so it doesn’t take them long to learn they can get an easy feed from humans.
But by doing so, it exposes them to illnesses and tends to lure them closer to boats and people fishing.
This puts them at increased risk of becoming entangled in fishing gear, taking baits from hooks, getting hit by a boat propeller, or becoming unintentionally harmed.
Dolphins are also a social species and they can quickly teach behaviours such as begging to other dolphins, putting more of them at risk of illness and harm.
Is it illegal to feed dolphins in South Australia?
In South Australia feeding dolphins is illegal, no matter where you are, attracting fines of up to $315 (plus a $90 Victims of Crime levy where applicable).
So, if a dolphin approaches you on the water, just admire it from a safe distance, and if you’re fishing, reel in your line to ensure they don’t get hooked or entangled in your gear.
Community members can report marine mammal incidents to a NPWS duty officer on 0427 556 676.
Feeding wild dolphins isn’t the only behaviour that can be harmful to them – think about the damage that discarded fishing lines and hooks can cause. Read our story to find out why it’s so important to Be responsible with your fishing gear.
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