New Maps Designed to Lessen Tourism Impact on Hawaiian Dolphins

Written by on August 31, 2012 in Marine Life, Technology

Spinner dolphins in Hawaii are a popular tourist attraction, but these dolphins sleep during the day and frequent human interference is disrupting their rest periods.

Researchers from Duke and Stony Brook universities are providing scientists and resource managers a new method for protecting these dolphins: new maps.

“Using the maps produced through this study we can identify the bays where the effects of human activities on spinner dolphins should be monitored most closely, and where immediate conservation actions are required,” said David W. Johnston, research scientist at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

In their study, they found that only 21 out of 99 bays are appropriate habitats for resting dolphins so conservation efforts can be focused in those specific areas.

Spinner dolphins. photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/42507736@N02/5591147154/">SteveD.</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photo pin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Spinner dolphins. photo credit: SteveD. via photo pin cc

“We may be able to minimize detrimental effects on dolphins by putting restrictions or preventative measures into place in a relatively small number of bays, rather than limiting access to dolphins along the entire coast,” said lead author Lesley H. Thorne, a lecturer in marine science at Stony Brook University.  “That benefits tourists and tourism operators as well as the dolphins.”

“Sleep is essential for most animals,” explained Johnston.  “When deprived of their necessary ‘zzzz’s,’ they gradually show a decreased ability to process information and remain attentive to environmental stimuli.  In technical lingo, we call this a ‘vigilance decrement’.”

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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