Guidelines for Specific Animals & Habitats
- Hatchling releases should as much as possible take place at dusk or at night to help the hatchlings avoid predators.
- Anyone handling hatchlings should wear gloves at all times.
- Hatchlings need to cross the sand, projects should avoid placing them directly in the water.
- Avoid allowing clients to take flash photos of turtles at night while nesting and encourage them to wear dark clothing to prevent disturbing the nesting process.
- If visiting a nesting beach, clients should go out with a researcher or trained guide or be sure to follow any local guidelines or regulations.
- On a nesting beach, clients should stay behind the turtle’s head while it is nesting.
- In the US, only permitted researchers can touch sea turtles. Outside of the US, programs need to have permits from their government officials to work with and touch sea turtles.
- When boating in the ocean, slow down when wildlife is present and avoid anchoring in sensitive coral reefs and seagrass beds.
- Avoid littering and help to clean debris off the beach that can impede both adults and hatchlings.
- Avoid projects that keep sea turtle hatchlings in tanks before they release them.
For more information, please see SEE Turtles Turtle Watching Tips.
- Avoid allowing the touching of corals, as any contact can harm them as well as sting or injure snorkelers.
- Encourage clients to remove nothing living or dead from the water, unless it is recent garbage that does not appear to have organisms living on it.
- Clients should move slowly and deliberately in the water and have a planned entry and exit from the coral area to avoid walking on or unnecessary contact with corals.
- Dock boats away from coral and use available moorings rather than anchors and chains which can harm corals.
- Encourage clients to use non-toxic, ‘reef safe’ sunscreen.
For more information, please see Coral Reef Alliance – Snorkeling Guidelines.
- Avoid allowing clients to touch, feed or give them water and leave plenty of space.
- Prevent clients from approaching resting manatees.
- Avoid making excessive noise or splashing which disturbs the manatees.
- Do not allow scuba diving in the presence of manatees as the bubbles disturb them.
- Avoid having boats chase manatees; if they try to avoid you then leave it alone.
- Boats should move slowly in manatee areas and follow speed zones.
- Prevent clients from surrounding manatees; they should always allow an escape path for the animal.
- Prevent clients from separating a mother from its calf.
For more information, please see Florida Fish & Wildlife Manatee Viewing Guidelines.
Whales & Dolphins
- Avoid luring whales or dolphins to the ship or shore with food. This could alter their behavior and put them in serious danger if they approach ships in the future.
- Never get into the water with whales, for your safety and theirs.
- Never take part in swimming with captive dolphins, as captivity causes undue stress and harm to the dolphins.
- Swimming with dolphins should only be done where legal and under careful guidelines including allowing the dolphins to come to the group and avoiding touching or disturbing them.
- Boats should remain a safe distance from dolphins and whales and avoid chasing.
- Boats should remain at a slow, safe speed and engine should be put in neutral when approached by a whale to allow it to pass.
- Approach whales and dolphins parallel and avoid positioning boats in front of or behind them.
- Do not separate members of a pod or encircle animals between boats or boats and the shore.
For more information, please see Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s resources: Swimming with Dolphins and Responsible Whale Watching.
Elephants (wild and captive/riding)
- Due to inhumane training practices, avoid promoting tours that include elephant riding.
- Instead visit legitimate sanctuaries that have rescued elephants from inhumane tourism practices, and do not force them to give rides or perform in any way.
- Elephants should be allowed to act naturally when in captivity and should not be forced to walk for lengthy periods of time.
- When viewing elephants in the wild, follow a trained guide who can identify any cues of distress.
- When encountering a wild elephant on the road, back away slowly. Wait for the elephant to leave the road before continuing the tour or attempting to pass.
- Always have clients avoid elephants in musth, especially the males as they are particularly aggressive during musth. Signs include a visible discharge from the temporal ducts on the side of their heads.
For more information, please see Adore Animals – Ethical Elephant Experience and Travel for Wildlife – Responsible Tourism in Thailand.
- Safari vehicles should always stay on main tracks to avoid damaging plants and harming small animals.
- Maintain a minimum distance of 65 feet from animals and remain inside the vehicle.
- Do not follow animals when they attempt to move away or use loud noises that will disturb them.
- Time spent viewing animals should be limited as well as number of vehicles near animals at any given time.
- Do not remove anything while on the safari (i.e. bone, skins, teeth, horns, feathers, eggs, rocks, or plants)
- Do not touch any animal; living or dead.
- Only go on a walking safari with a trained and knowledgeable guard, as the walking tours can be dangerous for humans and disrupt the animals.
- Do not allow clients to feed animals.
- Clients should remain inside the vehicle at all times and should not hang outside the windows.
For more information, please see Right Tourism – Safari Practices.