How to coexist safely with dolphins and other marine mammals

Summertime in Charleston means it’s time to enjoy the water. As beachgoers and boaters flock to the Lowcountry’s spectacular ocean and the river habitats for fun and relaxation, they are sure to catch glimpses of and interact with dolphins and other sea mammals.
The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, a nonprofit focused on protecting marine mammals in South Carolina waters, urges everyone to be mindful of marine mammals and to practice responsible and legal wildlife viewing.
“Our local resident dolphins are a treasured part of the Lowcountry’s natural heritage,” said Lauren Rust, founder and executive director of LMMN. 
“As we enjoy the water this summer, it’s important to remember that our actions can significantly impact these animals’ health and well-being.”
The LMMN shares these tips for safe and responsible marine mammal viewing.
Keep your distance
Always maintain a safe distance – at least 45 feet when on land and 150 feet when on water – from dolphins and other marine mammals. Approaching too closely can disturb their natural behaviors and increase stress.
Move away slowly
If a marine mammal approaches your watercraft, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass. Do not chase or follow them. 
Observe quietly
Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements that could startle marine mammals. Enjoy watching them from a distance with binoculars or a zoom lens.
Report stranded or injured animals
If you come across a stranded or injured marine mammal, do not attempt to touch or move it. Instead, immediately call LMMN’s stranding hotline at 1-800-922-5431. Their trained response team will handle the situation with care and expertise.
Dispose of trash properly
Marine debris, especially plastic, poses a significant threat to marine mammals. Always dispose of your trash in designated bins and participate in beach clean-up events.
“LMMN’s marine mammal stranding response program plays a critical role in protecting marine mammals, and we greatly appreciate the community’s support in all our efforts. Our stranding response team is always prepared to address any urgent needs. However, the public’s cooperation in reporting stranded animals and practicing responsible viewing is essential,” Rust said.  
“Let’s commit to protecting the marine mammals that make our waters so special,” Rust added, “Together, we can ensure that these incredible creatures continue to thrive in their natural habitat.”
Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network’s mission is to raise awareness about marine mammals in coastal South Carolina, educate the public on federal regulations, and foster young stewards in ways to protect both marine mammals and their environment. They achieve this through education, monitoring and school programs.
For more information on marine mammal safety and to learn about LMMN please visit

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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