In order to avoid dolphin harassment from irresponsible human activities, HEPCA produced a code of conduct for dolphin encounters that is now mandatory. Be aware that the non-respect of the code of conduct is now punishable by law and with a fine.Please follow these guidelines and ensure that your actions do not cause any change in their behaviour and be especially aware of the presence of mothers and calves. Dolphins have a highly developed hearing system that allows them to communicate up to ten times better than humans do. Therefore, high noise intensity hurts dolphins.
Remember that dolphins use certain areas like Fanous, Shaab El Erg and Abu Nugar mainly to rest, so activities that disrupt their sleep should be avoided for the wellbeing of these wild animals. This code of conduct aims at mitigating aspects of boat and swimmers approaches that negatively affect dolphin communication, behaviour and health.
PASSIVE INTERACTION: Always remember: the most enjoyable and fulfilling wildlife experience is the one where animals interact on their own terms!
Code of Conduct for Boat Captains
- Always maintain a clearance distance of minimum 30m from the dolphins.
- Only approach dolphins in open water by driving carefully and parallel to their swimming direction.
- As soon as dolphins are observed, drive slowly at a maximum speed of 4 knots or 7km/h or adjust to speed of the slowest dolphin. Never reverse, accelerate, or change direction suddenly.
- If dolphins approach your vessel, put your engine in neutral.
- If dolphins are bow riding, do not suddenly change direction.
- NEVER herd, chase, encircle or separate dolphin groups. Always leave the animals an “escape route”.
- When dolphins are already approached by another boat wait for your turn.
- NEVER follow dolphins inside lagoons and rest areas and keep a safe distance from the reef. Use immediately the moorings at the anchoring place.
- Avoid noises. Do not shout, whistle, use horns or play music.
- Be aware of possible signs of distress (e.g. avoidance, fluke slaps) and, if observed, leave the area at very low speed.
- When calves (young dolphins) are present, always apply extra care.
Code of Conduct for Swimmers
- All swimmers MUST wear fins, mask, snorkel and a lifejacket.
- Enter gently into the water, without jump or excessive splashes.
- Once in the water, always keep quiet and swim gently using your fins only.
- Always swim on the side of the group (parallel) and never dive down from top.
- DO NOT chase dolphins. Let them approach and decide how to interact.
- The use of scooters while swimming close to dolphins is strictly forbidden.
- Avoid any loud noises (in particular shouts and whistle).
- Remember that touching dolphins is strictly forbidden. The risk of exchanging diseases is very likely.
- NEVER throw trash in the water.
- NEVER feed the animals.
Guides should be the role model for their guests. Even if some dolphins are very curious and come very close to humans, we should not touch them. The physical contact can lead to the onset of pathologies, diseases and infections in the animal or the human. Furthermore, they are not pets: we should respect them and their wildness. Never forget: dolphins are top predators; they are strong and wild animals with unpredictable reactions.