Florida’s Port Canaveral, collaborating with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has created a new educational program to protect wild dolphins. It’s designed to inform the public via signage on the potential consequences of feeding wildlife and discarding fishing gear.
The new signs state, “Do Not Feed, Attempt to Feed, Tease or Harass Wild Dolphins,” and reminds port-goers that interactions of these kinds are illegal as specified under the Marine Mammal Protection act of 1972. Those who disobey could face up to $100,000 in fines. The signs include a phone number for the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement to report a violator.
Port Canaveral says fed dolphins could get comfortable around humans, which could encourage them to venture near fishing boats and potentially choke on food. Around 60 dolphins are found dead each year in the Indian River, with fishing gear as one of the causes. Some found in it end up saved by Hubbs-SeaWorld.
The project is one of several initiatives to help wildlife. Other campaigns by Port Canaveral include creating lighting for sea turtles that lay their eggs on nearby beaches, maintaining water quality and removing invasive lionfish and exotic vegetation from the port.
More than 40 signs are installed around the port in places like the Ocean Club Marina, Bluepoints Marina and the Port Canaveral Yacht Club. After seawall repairs are finished, more will be posted on the Rodney S. Ketcham Boat Ramp. The program was coordinated by the port’s environmental staff and interns.
For more information, visit www.portcanaveral.com