Portugal, which last week banned orca-watching trips because of danger to boats and passengers has now put the kibosh on dolphin-watching trips, this time to protect the small population of dolphins and give it a chance to grow.
For now, the ban is temporary, running only until August 30, but could be extended if needed. The announcement, from the Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests, applies to the area around the Sado estuary and adjacent marine areas which are also noted as a whale habitat. ICNF says it's an experiment for now. Normal passage of working ships is not included.
The concern is not an immediate danger to the dolphins but to assure that their normal activities, hopefully including mating and childraising, will not be disrupted. The Institute says that “after the downward trend observed in the 1990s, there was a slight increase with the survival of offspring born from 2010,” but there are still “risk factors that may hinder the ability to of population recovery and make it especially vulnerable to disturbances caused by human activities.” Of the approximately 25 bottlenose dolphins in the area, "many of which are over 40 years old," and not prime candidates for parenting.