Experts Suggest Guidelines for Keeping Dolphins Safe Year-Round

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PANAMA CITY BEACH-- During the time of Ancient Greece, if you killed a dolphin it was considered sacrilegious and was punishable by death.

That's not the case anymore, but there are still penalties.

One way you can cause dolphin deaths is by feeding them.

In 1972, Florida passed a state law forbidding beach goers and boaters from feeding dolphins.

"It's not only illegal but it's not in the best interest of the animal, because it is inadvertently training them not to hunt," Director of Gulf World Marine Institute Secret Holmes-Douglas said.

Studies show dolphins who are constantly fed by humans lose natural instinct.

Gulf World officials would like you to be extra careful this weekend when you're out on boats because it's dolphin breeding season.

If you approach a dolphin, you are disrupting their natural behavior pattern.

"When you're fishing, you want to make sure that you retain all your fishing gear," Holmes-Douglas said. "If dolphins do come up because they do approach, remove your fishing gear and move to a different fishing location."

The Gulf World Stranding Team responds to stranded dolphins and other sea animals and nurses them back to health.

Trash in the water is another issue. Dolphins have been known to mistake plastic bags for jelly fish.

"Any trash that you do take out on the water make sure what ever you take out your bring back," Holmes-Douglas said. "You don't want to leave any trash for animals out there."

Another problem facing marine life is water pollution.

Scientists have proven a connection with recent dolphin deaths to the 2010 BP oil spill.

"You can't pour that much oil into a closed system like the Gulf of Mexico without it affecting wildlife in some way," Russ Rector, the president of Dolphin Freedom Foundation, said. "Dolphins are Florida's state marine mammal. If we can't protect our state marine mammal we need to roll up the edges and quit doing it."