304744_10150963232026360_1002865606_nThe sight of dolphin playing in the Destin Harbor or Choctawhatchee Bay never gets old; it delights little kids and reminds adults about the power and beauty found in nature. Dolphin, and other sea mammals, like whales and porpoises also serve a very important function for the local environment; they are a good measure of the health and well being of our local waters. Since they consume a wide variety of local fish and squid, scientists can monitor the level of contaminates and toxins in their blood stream to help gauge the health of the Gulf of Mexico. A healthy and thriving dolphin population means a healthy and safe Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay, and that’s good for locals and visitors.
Dolphins along the Emerald Coast face two large environmental threats. Dolphins are naturally curious animals, and they will explore, play with, and eat just about anything that catches their eye. Marine debris, whether it’s a sandwich bag or plastic bottle or a small electronic appliance poses a real threat to their digestive health. Clear plastic tends to look like jelly fish, one of the dolphin’s favorite snack, and eating them causes obstruction in the digest track, almost always leading to death. Entanglement, from discarded fishing nets and wire or the plastic rings, which keep a six-pack of beverages together, may cause suffocation. This year, the Ocean Conservancy, sponsors of the annual Coastal Clean Up, provided specific instructions to help volunteers appropriately discard any large or toxic debris that washed ashore from the 2011 Japanese Tsunami. Properly discarding your liter is the best way to keep debris out of the water.
The second real threat to dolphin health is hazardous waste and run off. Strom water runoff, especially during the rainy spring, eventually ends up in our waterways. Every year, individual households produced almost 20 pounds of household hazardous waste. If this waste, like fertilizer, household cleaning products and paint, are not disposed of properly, they can make their way into our water ways. These chemical are ingested by fish, which in turn, are eaten by the dolphin. Properly disposing or recycling your household hazardous waste is the easiest and safest way to keep our Gulf of Mexico clean.
The Southern Star Dolphin cruise is committed to caring for the environment and the wildlife, which make their home in the Gulf and the Bay. We encourage our visitors to dispose of their trash properly and make every effort to leave the water as clean and beautiful as we found it.