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What is ocean etiquette?

Promoting responsible encounters with marine wildlife and their natural habitats.

VIDEO: What is ocean etiquette? Here's an overview in under 30 seconds. Transcript

Marine Wildlife Viewing Guidelines

  • Learn before you go. Read about the wildlife, viewing sites, and local regulations to get the most from your wildlife viewing experience.
  • Keep your distance. Use binoculars, spotting scopes, and cameras with zoom lenses to get a closer look.
  • Hands off. Never touch, handle, or ride marine wildlife. Touching wildlife, or attempting to do so, can injure the animal, put you at risk, and may also be illegal for certain species.
  • Do not feed or attract wildlife. Feeding or attempting to attract wildlife with food, decoys, sound, or light disrupts normal feeding cycles, may cause sickness or death from unnatural or contaminated food items, and habituates animals to people.
  • Never chase or harass wildlife. Never completely surround the animal, trap an animal between a vessel and shore, block its escape route, or come between mother and young.
  • Stay away from wildlife that appears abandoned or sick. Some marine animals, such as seals, leave the water or are exposed at low tide as part of their natural life cycle—there may be nothing wrong with them. If you think an animal is in trouble, contact local authorities for advice or report it to the NOAA Fisheries stranding network.

More marine wildlife viewing guidelines, specifically when viewing wildlife in national marine sanctuaries, are available online.

Video Transcript

Wildlife vewing is a popular recreational activity. Remember to alawys keep a safe distance, just like theses coral reef divers.