Getty Images/Minden Pictures RM
August 26, 2016

Swimming with animals tops many travelers' lists. (Have you seen those adorable dog-paddling pigs in the Bahamas?) But if swimming with dolphins in Hawaii was on your radar, your dream might never be reality.

Federal regulators are looking to put a ban on the tourist attraction, particularly with the area's spinner dolphins who are known to be especially playful nocturnal creatures.

Since the animals are night owls, the pressure to interact with tourists during the day is adding unnecessary stress on the mammals, according to regulators. Scientists have not found any correlation between human interaction and declining dolphin numbers, but fear that the added stress could eventually affect reproduction numbers.

Swimming and interacting with dolphins has become very popular in recent years, and many businesses would suffer should a ban be put in place.

Spinner dolphins have been a specific focus in this issue—not only do they get their name from jumping into the air and spinning, they often look awake even when they're sleeping. During the day, the dolphins allow half of their brains to sleep, while keeping the other half awake the continue to surface and breathe as needed.

The proposed regulation would cover any area up to two miles from the Hawaiian islands, and farther in waters between Maui, Lanai, and Kahoolawe islands, according to ABC News.

Many tour agencies already advise swimmers to keep a safe distance from the dolphins to allow the animals to stick to as normal a schedule as possible, meaning you could still possibly swim with dolphins while keeping the species happy and safe.

Erika Owen is the Senior Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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