Visiting Marine Parks

Each marine park will have its own set of guidelines and standards covering issues of relevance for that area. By following these guidelines, and encouraging your fellow tourists and tour operators to do the same, visitors can observe wildlife in a way which is both safe for themselves as well as the animals.

What are they?

Marine protected areas, are regions in which human activity has been placed under restrictions in order to conserve the natural environment.

What you can do

Each marine park will have its own set of guidelines setting out how tourists are expected to act in protected areas. These guidelines will carry information of relevance to that particular marine park and local issues which tourists may encounter. Here are some general guidelines on some common marine park concerns:

Help to protect marine environments and coastal areas.

  • Do not dispose of any litter on the beach or in the sea, as some creatures can mistake plastic and other rubbish for food.
  • Fishing is usually prohibited in all protected areas.
  • Never drive on beaches unless expressly allowed in a designated area as this can destroy small sand-dwelling creatures, and turtle nests – as well as the tranquillity of this sensitive environment.
  • Encourage your hotel to reduce noise and lights on the beach, which can prevent newly-hatched turtles from reaching the sea.
  • Avoid restaurants that serve undersized crabs and lobsters, which are contributing to the rapid demise of these species.
  • Never buy or remove animals or shells from the sea. Do not remove anything – dead or alive – from the sea, as every creature is essential to the complex marine ecosystem.

Protecting Coral Reefs:

Help keep reefs healthy by following local guidelines, recommendations, regulations, and customs.

  • If you dive, don’t touch the coral. Keep your fins, equipment and hands away from the coral since this contact can hurt you and will damage the delicate coral animals. See our Diving and Snorkelling section for more information.
  • Stay off the bottom because stirred-up sediment can settle on corals and smother them.
  • Avoid entering sensitive habitat areas with your boat or other motorised watercraft.
  • Maintain your boat engine to prevent oil and fuel leaks.
  • Keep all waste produced during your excursions in a safe place to be disposed of properly when you’re back on land.
  • If you go boating near a coral reef, don’t anchor your boat on the reef. Use mooring buoy systems if they are available.
  • Maintain and use your marine sanitation devices properly.
  • Conserve energy and keep your engine in good running condition. By conserving energy, harmful air emissions leading to air deposition are minimised.

Marine Mammal Watching:

Watching cetaceans at sea can disturb their natural behaviour. You should follow these tips to ensure that you avoid this:

  • Do not touch or feed a cetacean.
  • Do not make any loud or sudden noises.
  • No more than 3 vessels should be in the caution zone of a cetacean at any one time
  • Vessels should not chase, encircle, block the direction of travel of cetaceans, or position itself in the middle of the pod.
  • Do not use personal motorised watercraft such as jet skis or underwater vessels, parasails, remotely operated craft, hovercrafts, windsurfers or kite surfers for cetacean watching.
  • Extreme caution should be exercised when approaching pods containing calves.

Swimming with whales/dolphins:

Swimming with whales or dolphins may place both people and animals at risk.

  • Swimming with the use of any underwater breathing equipment is not encouraged.
  • Underwater flash photography or lighted filming should be avoided.
  • Only enter the water when accompanied by an appropriately trained local guide.
  • Observe maximum numbers for swimmers in the water at any one time.
  • Observe maximum interaction time for swimmers.
  • Observe minimum distance from animals.
  • Swimmers should not be allowed in the water with surface-active large whales.
  • Do not cause disturbance in the water such as splashing to attract the attention of the animals.

You can find out more on our issue pages for Whale Watching and Swimming with Wild Dolphins

Links to organisations for further information

  • World Database of Protected Places