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St. Augustine Eco Tours has developed the following standards to ensure that our movement within natural habitats for observation is as non invasive as possible.

The standards listed below go well beyond federal regulations and should be followed by any organization or group involved in animal observation in natural environments.

ST AUGUSTINE ECO TOURS CODE OF ETHICS:

1. Document violations of the MMPA and distribute educational literature to violators to encourage compliance during future encounters.

2. Utilize the latest in quiet engine technology and turn off depth sounders and engines when in the vicinity of dolphins. (This reduces introduced sonic pollution that affects the echolocation and communication of marine mammals).

3. No use of communication technology to locate groups of dolphins or manatee. (No use of marine radios or cell phones to hone in on groups of dolphins that may have had multiple encounters that day).

4. Operate vessels above slow speed only when in deep marked channels. Limit vessel speed to 25 mph or less.

5. Maintain slow speeds in marked channels where dolphin & manatee activity is common. Develop a company produced map of these high speed zones that shouldbe slow speed due to animal activity and encourage other vessels to slow down. Use photo and video documentation to encourage regulators to install slow speed zones for wildlife and safety.
St. Augustine Eco Tours follows rules laid out in the Marine Mammal Protection Act regarding observation of wild dolphins.

1. No harassment of any marine mammal to included feeding, touching, pursuing or any means of attracting attention.

2. Stop at a minimum distance of 150 ft from dolphins and manatee.

3. Spend no more than 15 minutes with any one group of dolphins or manatee. (Federal viewing regulations specify 30 minutes).

4. Move away from groups of dolphins or manatee if viewing activity exceeds more than three boats or if viewing is attracting other boats.
The hyper-fertile estuaries of Northeast Florida are home to one of the most amazing creatures found on our blue planet, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. St. Augustine Eco Tours began a population study of the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin in the St. Augustine area in May of 2006.  In the past few years, a multi-faceted consortium has formed involving many groups (universities and non-profit organizations) to continue and expand the study of the abundance and characteristics of the dolphins in this region.   Current knowledge suggests there is a separate group of inshore and ocean based group of dolphins, each with their own unique set of behaviors and habits.  Findings like these are very interesting - considering the two groups of dolphins are separated by just a few miles!
Viewing wild dolphins and witnessing their different natural behaviors is an experience that most people find fascinating. Please know that our company will remain at the proper distance for responsible dolphin viewing so as not to interfere with their natural behaviors. The dolphins will thank you for joining an eco tour outfitter who cares, and we thank you as well!