Swimming with dolphins in Hawaii could soon be illegal thanks to proposed ban

Posted at 2:12 PM, Aug 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 14:12:10-04

HONOLULU (AP) — Federal regulators are proposing a widespread ban on swimming with Hawaii's spinner dolphins to allow the nocturnal creatures to rest during the day.

The National Marine Fisheries Service proposal expected to be announced Tuesday would allow some limited exceptions, given dolphins sometimes approach people.

But the rule would likely shut down or greatly disrupt Hawaii's dolphin tour industry as it currently operates.

The ban would cover waters out to 2 miles, where Hawaii's spinner dolphins rest after foraging for food at night. Tour companies take customers to these nearshore waters to find dolphins.

Swimming with dolphins is popular with visitors and some locals. But scientists are concerned this deprives the dolphins of the rest they need.

The agency plans public meetings on the proposal with a final decision next year.