Why you shouldn’t ever feed wild dolphins

Why you shouldn’t ever feed wild dolphins

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!’

So long and thanks for all the fish — Hitch­hik­er’s Guide (HD)

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 toBe respon­si­ble with your fish­ing gear.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living