Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is a popular family vacation destination during the summer months. The primary industry of the island is based on tourism. The barrier island boasts a large and active population of Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). The natural occurrence of dolphins in the area has proven to be advantageous to the local tourism industry in that “Dolphin Ecology” tours are one of the most popular boat trips as an activity for tourists during their stay. Prior to the 1994 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (stipulating that feeding and touching wild dolphins is illegal), dolphin tours in the area fed the wild dolphins to attract them to their boats. Today there are still a number of dolphins that follow and approach vessels with open mouths attempting to receive food handouts. The behavior displayed by these wild dolphins is very similar to that of dolphins one would see at marine parks or on television. Hence, people will often treat the wild dolphins as such– by petting, feeding, or trying to swim with them. The following study addresses this misconception and by way of a marine education program, the “Eco-Venture”, aims to teach youths about proper interactions with wild dolphins. The Eco-Venture was formulated with the concept of integrating fun and first-hand experience of the ocean in order to provide an impacting education for participants. The program’s goal is to motivate a future generation of marine conservationists and facilitate a cross-generational impact through the participant’s acquired knowledge.
Farrell, Jamison N., "Integrating education and recreation to augment marine conservation and awareness of the marine mammal protection act." (2012). Internship Reports (Restricted). 218.
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