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New Zealand bans swimming with bottlenose dolphins in attempt to save the species

New Zealand bans swimming with bottlenose dolphins in attempt to save the species
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New Zealand is prohibiting tourists from swimming with bottlenose dolphins in an effort to protect the species.

The country’s Department of Conservation made the announcement in a press release on Thursday, citing research that shows “interaction with bottlenose dolphins is having a significant impact on the population’s resting and feeding behaviour.”

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According to The Guardian, the ban will apply to tour operators in the country’s Bay of Islands. 

The conservation department said the population of bottlenose dolphins in the region, which is a popular tourist attraction, has decreased 66 percent over the last 20 years.

The department said “only 19 dolphins” frequently visit the region currently, while adding that the “latest research shows a 75 percent calf mortality rate — the highest seen in New Zealand, internationally or in captivity.”

“Under the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, restrictions were already in place to limit interactions with bottlenose dolphins, however, the research shows they are inadequate to protect the animals,” the department said.

“The Bay of Islands bottlenose dolphin population can only be protected if everyone plays their part,” it added.

The department said it is currently considering a proposal that would create a marine mammal sanctuary for the region.