5th Hawaii dolphin tour wins NOAA recognition

Source: Hoku Naia
Source: Hoku Naia

HONOLULU (AP) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Hoku Naia of Oahu runs responsible dolphin tours that don't disturb the wild animals as they rest, nurse and breed.

The company operated by Star of Honolulu Cruises is the fifth Hawaii company to be recognized as meeting the criteria for NOAA's Dolphin SMART program.

To earn the distinction, tour operators must stay at least 50 yards from dolphins, refrain from feeding, touching, and swimming with wild dolphins, and move away cautiously if dolphins show signs of disturbance.

Resting and socializing dolphins may be disturbed if humans approach them too quickly or make too much noise.

NOAA said Monday that Ocean Joy Cruises, Hawaii Nautical and its subsidiary Port Waikiki Cruises on Oahu, and Holoholo Charters on Kauai have already earned the recognition.

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