When a boat from New York’s Long Island docks, you might see a crowd of dolphins at the dock, or maybe they’ll be floating up on the water’s surface.
That’s when you need to get on board, or at least close enough to see them.
Dolphin sightseeing tours, which are offered by the Port of Seattle and the Massachusetts State Police, have been on cruise ships for years.
Now, some of them are offering their tours to people on the boat.
The Port of Portland has offered its dolphin sight-seeing tours since 2013.
“We want to give our guests an opportunity to experience these amazing animals for themselves,” said Scott Taylor, director of communications for the Port.
“It’s a beautiful sight to behold.
They look great and are very playful, but there are some challenges and we don’t want to get in their way.”
The Port of Salem has also been providing its dolphins tours to passengers since 2014.
Taylor said they’re trying to make the tours as interactive as possible.
“People want to see the animals and have an experience with them,” he said.
“Dolphins are a unique species, so there are challenges that we have to overcome.”
Some of the challenges the Port is facing include safety, as well as how to keep people away from the dolphins, according to Taylor.
“If you’re on the vessel, you’re always looking at the horizon, and you can see the dolphins coming towards you, but if you’re in the boat, you don’t have any idea that they’re there,” he explained.
“The boats are not designed to be that way.”
Dolphin sightings can be a challenge, but the Port says it’s working on it.
In 2015, the Port partnered with the nonprofit Dolphin Conservancy to provide a dolphin-themed cruise.
“Our goal is to provide dolphins with a safe and pleasant experience, one that allows them to thrive and grow,” Taylor said.
The Port also wants to make sure the people who are on the boats are safe.
“In order for the dolphins to be comfortable, we’re trying really hard to ensure that they are in a safe environment,” he continued.
The boat must be off-limits to people.
The boats must have at least two lifeboats.
The ship must be anchored to a pier, and it must have enough space to hold people on board.
“Any activity that is on the ship that may cause the dolphins discomfort or discomfort is off limits,” Taylor added.
Tour companies can be difficult to find, but Taylor said the port is looking to fill the gap with other organizations.
“They’re going to have to be really creative,” he added.