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Are Dolphins Endangered? What You Should Know About the MMPA

November 07, 2022 / marine mammals,

Dolphins are beautiful animals that deserve to be protected, but are dolphins endangered? What is being done to protect these beautiful species?

We're so happy to bring up October 21st, which was the 50th Anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to explain the conservation efforts that are ongoing in the United States. The Marine Mammal Protection Act, also known as MMPA, focuses on mammal science, recovery and conservation, making it an essential act in the protection of dolphins and other marine animals in the wild.

It was only 50 years ago when Congress recognized the need for better animal protections because of concerns of certain marine mammals and species being put at risk of extinction due to human activities. Through the MMPA, a global benchmark has been created regarding marine mammal conservation. This was the first piece of legislation to ever call for an ecosystem-level protection for wildlife. Thanks to the MMPA, all marine mammals in U.S. waters are protected.

We often have people ask, "are dolphins endangered?" The simple answer is still, "yes." Dolphins are endangered and do need help to recover their numbers. The MMPA is just one of the acts that is in place to help make sure they are treated fairly and protected in the waters of the United States.

The Importance of the MMPA in U.S. Waters and Beyond

The importance of the Marine Mammal Protection Act can't be overstated. At this, its 50-year anniversary, we are happy to report on the fact that zero marine mammal species have gone extinct from U.S. waters since the MMPA was enacted. As for animal populations that were in decline? The MMPA was able to slow and stop the declines, helping several important species recover. Today, populations of the following animals have improved thanks to the MMPA:

  • Humpback whales
  • California sea lions
  • Gray seals
  • Gray whales

Other species have also been helped, such as Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, one of the most common dolphins seen off the coast of the United States.

The 50th anniversary is one to celebrate, because the impact of the MMPA has been significant. You can see the resilience of animal species that are now recovering from decades of over-fishing and overexploitation.

There are still challenges ahead. Humans rely on the oceans just as these mammals do, so it takes an ongoing effort to protect the MMPA and the passages that keep marine mammals safe.

Dolphins Plus Spectator Pass

The MMPA Still Faces Challenges

Problematically, the MMPA still faces trouble. Through amendments made in Congress, the Act has been weakened over time, frustrating scientists, activists and legislators who recognize the importance and intelligence of marine mammals.

Despite that, the MMPA is holding strong and still provides protections to animals in U.S. waters. The MMPA has  proven to be vital to the protection of at-risk species and has helped many recover in number over time.

How We Support Conservation at Dolphins Plus Bayside

Here at Dolphins Plus staff scientists contribute to ongoing research to create a better understanding of marine mammals while animal care and behavior experts provide educational opportunities to guests from around the world. At our facility in Key Largo, FL we offer daily animal encounters to connect guests to our dolphin family, with the hopes that connection will inspire an appreciation for the animals and their ecosystem. We also provide educational field trips, internships, research opportunities and more to people hoping to get involved in marine conservation in the future.

Finally, we give back! Dolphins Plus provides aid and resources to support local marine mammal stranding efforts.

We work collaboratively with people in our communities and boost conservation efforts. Below are some of the ways that we do our part for our marine animals.

School Groups

Custom field trips are offered including combinations of class activities, labs, dolphin encounters, and more! Topics Include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Animal Behavior
  • Conservation
  • Local Ecosystem Ecology


Dolphins Plus offers internships for individuals interested in gaining practical experience working with marine mammals. Internships are offered in the following fields:

  • Animal Care and Training
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Research
  • Education

Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder

Dolphins Plus is a proud supporter of Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responders, a not for profit 501(c)3 facility that is dedicated to the rescue of sick and injured whales and dolphins throughout 10,000 square miles of marine habitat in the Florida Keys.

We love to share our knowledge and the respect we have for dolphins and other marine wildlife. Follow Our Dolphins to stay in-the-know and get the latest news about the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at Dolphins Plus Bayside.


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