Hands to Yourself
Keep Wildlife Safe and Healthy
Touching wildlife can be fatal for the animal and can have legal consequences. Remember, wildlife are wild! They are more than capable of defending themselves with their teeth, claws, sheer size, or toxins.
Look, Don’t Touch
Would you like it if someone followed you around your house all day? What if a stranger kept poking you on the subway? It should come as no surprise that marine wildlife don’t enjoy these types of annoyances, either. Attempting to touch marine animals, like otters, seals, dolphins, sea turtles, or manta rays could seriously injure them, cause them to flee, or evoke aggressive behavior, using up the precious energy they need to perform basic life activities.
You don’t want your social media posts of wildlife to make headlines for the wrong reasons! Attempting to touch wildlife doesn't just disrupt the animals’ normal feeding, breeding, and sheltering behaviors, they are illegal and punishable by law. Many of them are protected under the Endangered Species Act and are also sacred to their community’s cultural heritage. It’s illegal to touch, feed, or harass them, and there will be consequences.
Responsible Reef Practices
Snorkeling over a colorful coral reef is an amazing experience, so do your part to keep it that way for both people and wildlife!
Take only pictures and leave only bubbles while diving or snorkeling! Touching corals can remove their outer protective layer, spread infectious diseases, and expose them to foreign bacteria and oils on your fingers, which negatively impacts their health and can kill them.
Watch your flippers! Fragile, hard-bodied corals can break and die at the slightest touch, and stirred-up sediment can smother them. Coral reefs are home to some of the most venomous creatures on earth, including many that are known to produce toxins that can irritate, kill, or paralyze humans. Touching them could give you anything from a rash to a trip to the hospital. Help to protect yourself and preserve this fragile ecosystem for future generations by keeping your hands to yourself.
Links to Learn More
- Wild Dolphin Interactions Regulations and Policies
- Reef Etiquette - Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
- Coral Etiquette 101 - NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
- What Can I Do to Protect Coral Reefs?
Take the Pledge
Respect. Protect. Enjoy.