Humans have widespread effects on dolphins, which can be separated into three main categories: 1) habitat destruction and pollution, 2) fishery/hunting interaction and 3) direct human contact.
1) Pollution has a significant effect on the health of marine mammals. Contaminants released into the ocean, especially PCBS (persistant chemicals banned in the U.S. in the 1970s), can suppress dolphin’s immune systems and cause significant health and reproduction problems. High concentrations of these contaminants have been found in dolphin tissues in recent years, and “80 percent of accumulated toxins” are passed to first-born calves.
2) Fisheries, which don’t usually target dolphins, often accidentally entangle, injure or drown dolphins as bycatch. Fisheries can also overharvest in certain areas, causing a decline in dolphin populations due to prey reduction. And dolphin hunting still occurs in certain places, such as Peru, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Japan.
3) Nonviolent human interactions with dolphins (such as swimming with dolphins) have been proven to be stressful to dolphins, disrupting their feeding, resting, nursing and social patterns, according to a British study conducted on Zanzibar.
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