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Dolphins' sleep being disturbed by noisy tourists, say researchers (VIDEO)


A dolphin just trying to get some sleep.


Michael Regan

Spinner dolphins in Hawaii are not getting a good day's rest say researchers in a new study.

The reason? Tourists sailing around the waters where they typically sleep during the daytime keep the animals awake due to noise pollution - or possibly their inherent desire to peform for onlookers.

Researchers at Duke University said that more quiet conservation areas are needed in places where dolphins sleep in order to let them rest.

“Using the maps produced through this study we can identify the bays where the effects of human activities on spinner dolphins should be monitored most closely, and where immediate conservation actions are required,” said co-author David Johnston, of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, reported Red Orbit.

Researchers said that a lack of sleep affects animals the same way as humans: decreased mental abilities, fatigue, irritability.

"Sleep is essential for most animals," said Johnston, reported NBC News.

"When deprived of their necessary 'zzzz's,' they gradually show a decreased ability to process information and remain attentive to environmental stimuli. In technical lingo, we call this a 'vigilance decrement.'"

According to Smithsonian, to combat the problem, researchers devised a map of bays along coastal Hawaii where sleepy dolphins siesta aimed at tour operators and sailors to alter their course.

Nobody likes a grumpy dolphin.

The research was published in the journal PloS One.