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Dolphin SMART Volunteers Needed

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NOAA's Dolphin SMART program is seeking volunteers to perform annual evaluations for recognized businesses along Florida's west coast. There are nine businesses offering dolphin viewing tours and ecotours from Ft. Myers to Crystal River. Dolphin SMART volunteers act as "secret shoppers" and attend regularly scheduled cruises and evaluate the tours for adherence to the Dolphin SMART criteria using a standard reporting form.

It is helpful for volunteers to have some previous experience such as:

  • Interest or background in marine biology or animal behavior
  • Interest or background in marine mammal conservation
  • Boating experience

Dolphin SMART volunteers receive basic training including an overview of dolphin behaviors (natural and disturbed behaviors), background on responsible viewing guidelines and how they aid in conservation of wild dolphins, and "on the water" distance training to help gauge distance from dolphins when evaluating dolphin viewing tours. Dolphin SMART volunteers may also assist in other educational components of the program by representing Dolphin SMART at outreach events (e.g. festivals, school visits). From 6-10 volunteers are needed. The time commitment is approximately one or two days over the next 4-6 months.

If you are interested in becoming a Dolphin SMART volunteer or if you have questions, please email Grant Craig or call him at (727) 209-5963.