In 2011, the Bay Spirit II became an active participant in the Dolphin SMART program - a unique wild dolphin conservation program. This program was developed by NOAA's Fisheries Service and Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and the Dolphin Ecology Project in an attempt to promote and educate properly viewing wild dolphins.
"We are so pleased to have Florida Aquarium as a part of Dolphin SMART," said Jessica Powell, NOAA's Dolphin SMART Regional Coordinator. "The Florida Aquarium's participation will help us spread important dolphin conservation messages to thousands of visitors annually."
The Florida Aquarium was also the first business to simultaneously become both Dolphin SMART and a Proud Supporter. As a Proud Supporter, the Florida Aquarium supports Dolphin SMART by raising public awareness of the program and educating the public on the importance of responsibly viewing wild dolphins.
"As a regional leader promoting stewardship of our natural resources, The Florida Aquarium is thrilled to become a part of the Dolphin SMART program," said Lauren DeLuca, a captain of the Wild Dolphin Cruise's Bay Spirit II, "Conservation is an integral part of our mission and it is an honor to be recognized for our proper wild dolphin viewing practices."
The SMART acronym is a reminder of the basic principles of dolphin viewing etiquette:
For more information about the Dolphin SMART program please visit their website.
Stay at least 50 yards from dolphins,
Move away slowly if the dolphins show signs of disturbance,
Always put your vessel engine in neutral when dolphins are near,
Refrain from feeding, touching or swimming with wild dolphins,
Teach others to be Dolphin SMART.