After a decline due to the pandemic, the demand for dolphin-watching tours in Bali, Indonesia, has increased. Marine tourism business owners in the northern Bali resort village of Lovina say that watching tour guides finally feel like a sense of normalcy has returned.
Made Rudita, the head of the Marine Tourism Guide Group at Bhakti Segara Lovina, Kalibukbuk Village, said to The Bali Sun that demand is rising, and “it has improved a lot compared to during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now there are an average of around 300 tourists every day, maybe more. Previously, during the pandemic there were hardly any, at most 20 and even then only local tourists…for western guests, the peak was in July and August. Domestic guests are usually busy during the Eid holidays.”
Although if it is done unregulated, and with too many tourists wanting to get too close or feeding the animals, dolphin watching could become an animal welfare problem for the wild cetaceans, at least it provides a more vegan-friendly alternative to fishing and whaling. It can also boost the economy of coastal resources which could then get involved in the rehabilitation of captive dolphins from aquaria and marine parks. For instance, in September 2022, three Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins were released back into the wild by conservation agencies in Bali. Johnny, Rocky, and Rambo were rescued from captivity at a hotel in North Bali, and they went through an intensive rehabilitation process for over three years before they were released into the open ocean. If the public learns that, if they want to see dolphins and other cetaceans, watching them in the wild with reputable operators rather than in captivity is the right way to go, this could accelerate the end of keeping these marine mammals in aquaria.