Dolphins in Hawaii are having a hard time sleeping because tourists insist on getting up close and personal with the playful swimmers. According to Live Science snorkeling, kayaking, and other forms of up close and personal contact are causing the dolphins to lose their much needed rest.
Spinner dolphins are known for diving out of the water and performing skillful stunts for tourists, but they spend their days sleeping in protected bays while feeding in open waters at night. Unfortunately, selfish tourists attempting to see the dolphins during the daytime hours have chosen to disturb their sleep cycles.
In a statement regarding the harm being caused by tourist,s marine scientist David W. Johnston of Duke University said:
“Sleep is essential for most animals. When deprived of their necessary ‘zzzz’s,’ they gradually show a decreased ability to process information and remain attentive to environmental stimuli. In technical lingo, we call this a ‘vigilance decrement.'”
Researchers note that sleep deprived dolphins have a harder time finding food, avoiding predators, and even communicating with other dolphins.
A new mapping model is being created which takes into account various environmental factors that could allow tourists to watch dolphins during the daytime while avoiding certain geographical areas where dolphins find the most rest. The map will include the depth of water, size of the water mass, and distance from foraging areas.
In the meantime, researchers are asking that tourists limit their contact with the dolphins so they can receive the rest they need until a plan of action is put into place.