Dolphin behavior and conservation Dolphin behavior and conservation Rangiroa, Polynésie française Dauphins de Rangiroa (DDR)
We are looking for certified scuba divers to help collecting demographic and behavioral data on a small bottlenose dolphin community impacted by wildlife tourism.

7 Avis du projet de Dauphins de Rangiroa (DDR)

Détails du projet

'Dauphins de Rangiroa' is a French Polynesian NGO dedicated to research, citizen science, conservation, and education on Rangiroa bottlenose dolphins.


Dauphins de Rangiroa - DDR - is a French Polynesian NGO dedicated to research, citizen science, conservation, and education programs on Rangiroa common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia.

Born in 2019, DDR benefits from a 13-year scientific monitoring experience on Rangiroa bottlenose dolphins and a 10-year experience working with ecovolunteers from all over the world who join us every year to help the NGO complete its fieldwork.


We focus our research and education programs on 1. A demographic and social monitoring of the small bottlenose dolphin community inhabiting Tiputa waters, on the northern part of Rangiroa atoll ; 2. A better understanding of the behaviors observed in these animals as part of their interactions with diving tourism ; 3. The implementation of ethical and sustainable dolphin watching activities on the Tiputa area. Within our survey, we are focusing on each of the dolphins’ history and personality.


French Polynesia is located at the center of the South Tropical Pacific Ocean, between 5° and 30°S and 130° and 155°W. It is composed of five archipelagoes and 121 islands spread over a 5 million-square-kilometer area. The French Polynesian EEZ is one of the most isolated worldwide and stands for almost 50% of the French EEZ. About 20 species of cetaceans may be observed in French Polynesian waters.

Yet 350 kilometers from Tahiti in the northwest Tuamotu Islands, the giant atoll of Rangiroa - ‘Great Sky’ in Paumotu -, a true oasis of life and diversity in the heart of the tropical Pacific, stretches its 170 kilometers of coral reefs, sands, and coconut trees around a 1,600-square-kilometer area with waters so fish-laden that it has become one of the world's top diving destinations. The atoll's impressive size - 80 kilometers long by 20 kilometers wide on average - and its two large passes, Avatoru and Tiputa, make it home to marine wildlife as exceptional as it is impressive.

French Polynesia enjoys a very mild tropical climate and is equipped with modern infrastructures. No vaccinations are required to come and stay there.


Since 2009, DDR's research director has been studying the small bottlenose dolphin community inhabiting the northern part of Rangiroa atoll. Her work mainly focuses on the impacts of tourist activities on the dolphins’ behavior. Indeed, these animals are targeted daily by commercial and non commercial ‘dolphin watching’ activities. Literature and the media have endowed cetaceans with a reputation that predisposes people to expect friendly interactions with free-ranging dolphins. Theme parks and aquaria, where people can touch, feed and swim with captive dolphins, enhance this reputation.

The popularity of marine mammal viewing activities can result in conservation and socioeconomic benefits for the dolphins and local communities alike if they are conducted responsibly and with care, in accordance with existing regulations that protect these iconic species. However, if sighting activities are not conducted appropriately, they can place marine mammals at significant risk of harassment, injury or death.

Some of Rangiroa dolphins have been conditioned on the medium to long term to tolerate or even seek out physical contact with scuba divers and snorkelers. Such a situation raises concerns about the risks related to unmanaged interactions between humans and wild dolphins. These risks include:

1. An increase in the number of accidents involving dolphins and divers through, for example, ‘pushy’ behaviours or intimidation attempts from the dolphins and / or divers who forget basic diving safety rules;

2. Disease transmission from the dolphins to humans and vice versa;

3. An increased vulnerability to human activities of the dolphins which have become too familiar to human presence - loss of vigilance toward human activities -, resulting in collisions with boats, propeller injuries, fishing gear entanglement, etc.;

4. Changes in ranging and social patterns;

5. The implementation of an ‘open water dolphinarium’ situation lacking basic educational components


1. Through our long-term demographic and social monitoring of the Tiputa bottlenose dolphin community, we want to be able to spot any deleterious impact of human activities on the dolphins.

2. Through our long-term ethological monitoring, we want to describe and better understand the impacts of tourism on the dolphins’ behaviors and identify the risks associated with close interactions between dolphins and divers or snorkelers.

3. Through our education program, we want to share our results and recommendations with the general public to help developing responsible tourist activities and improving our relationships with wildlife.


We are looking for responsible and committed divers who are ready to be involved in our fieldwork. Divers should know that in Rangiroa as elsewhere, there are safety rules to respect with the animals, whether dolphins, sharks, rays, moray eels and other large or small marine wildlife. In order to preserve the animals' welfare and sea users' safety, please do not touch and / or feed the animals. Understand more to care more is an essential axis of our work. No touching, no feeding, no teasing: respect them, respect us!


Ceta’Diving mission is a participative tool for the demographic and ethological monitoring of a small and protected bottlenose dolphin community. It will allow you to observe and better understand these animals' routine, the issues related to their conservation and to learn more about the paradoxical relationships that exist between humans and wildlife. Finally, you will help DDR to sustain its long-term dolphin monitoring program.

L'objectif principal du projet est sur
Statut d'OBNL
Oui, organisme sans but lucratif enregistré
Année de fondationtarget
Pamela Carzon
Pamela Carzon
Langues parlées

Social Impact

On a local scale, DDR has forged several partnerships with environmental NGOs and laboratories (e.g. Center for Insular Research and Observatory of the Environment) for the protection of French Polynesian natural heritage.

On a national (France) scale, we have been co-supervising a PhD thesis in collaboration with the École Pratique des Hautes Études - Paris - from 2018. DDR's research director participates in the production of scientific papers and documentaries on wildlife and tourism issues. She is an active member of the French National Stranding Network and collaborates with multiple researchers. She also participates in aerial censuses of cetaceans and seabirds overseas - REMMOA campaigns 2011, 2014 and 2017 - with the Observatoire Pélagis of La Rochelle - Marine Mammal Research Center.

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