Coastal Nature Guidelines
The goal of the Coastal Nature Guide program is to adopt and promote sustainable wildlife viewing practices that preserve healthy and resilient coasts of the Gulf of Mexico.
Viewing wildlife in their natural habitat is a wondrous experience; however when we approach too closely, move too quickly, or make too much noise, we increase the risk of disrupting natural behaviors of wildlife. Disruption of natural behaviors is a form of harassment, and in many cases against Federal law.
All Coastal Nature Guides encourage responsible viewing of wildlife by following the program's code of ethics and statement of commitment, which are based on best practices, guidelines and legal requirements.
Some examples of the statement of commitment include:
- I am committed to developing, operating and marketing nature tourism in a sustainable manner that makes a positive contribution to the natural and cultural environment, which generate benefits for coastal communities, and which do not put at risk the future livelihood of local people.
- I commit to create awareness and active involvement among my customers towards the natural, social and cultural environment of the places we visit;
- I will encourage other nature tour operators to follow the code of ethics.
Code of Ethics
- Promote conservation and wise use of valuable coastal natural resources to all citizens
- Do not feed, pursue or harass wildlife
- Never attempt to swim with dolphins and manatees. Keep a safe distance of 50 yards from dolphin and 100 yards from manatee
- Avoid surprising wildlife
- Turn off or shield all lights that can be seen from the beach during turtle nesting season May-October
- Use designated trails
- Dispose of all trash properly
- Leave natural, historic, and cultural objects and artifacts where you find them
- Do not pick flowers & plants
- Return all live shells to the water
- Respect areas closed for nesting birds and turtles
- Watch your boat wake while maneuvering around other vessels
- Avoid prop dredging in shallow waters
- Practice “catch and release” fishing to protect and conserve fisheries
- Avoid making loud or sudden noises
- Use marketing and promotion campaigns that are accurate and lead to realistic expectations
- Attend annual certification training sessions
- Promote professionalism and integrity within the nature tourism industry by providing and maintaining a certification program for nature tourism operators.
For more information please contact the Program Director, Chandra Wright
P.O. Drawer 457
Gulf Shores, AL 36547
The founding program sponsors of the program are NOAA/Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau.