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RD in a nutshell

Rangiroa Dolphins is a NGO dedicated to research, citizen science, conservation, and education on Rangiroa Atoll bottlenose dolphins in the Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia.

Born in 2019, RD has a 15-year monitoring experience on Rangiroa bottlenose dolphins and a 10-year experience with ecovolunteers from all over the world who join us every year to help the NGO complete its fieldwork.

Volunteering with dolphins
Programme de recherche sur les dauphins

Areas of focus
and partnerships

We focus our research on the demographic and social monitoring of the bottlenose dolphin community inhabiting Tiputa waters in northern Rangiroa atoll, and the behavioural changes observed in these animals as part of their interactions with diving tourism. We are therefore interested in each of the dolphins’ history and personality.

RD is a member of the Polynesian Federation of Environmental NGOs, the Observatory of Cetaceans in France and overseas and the French National Marine Mammal Stranding Network. RD is an active partner of Objectif Sciences International, the Center for Insular Research and Observatory of the Environnement on Moorea in French Polynesia and the Rangiroa Diving Center.

Dolphins and
wildlife tourism

Whale and dolphin watching activities promising unique encounters with free-ranging cetaceans are increasing dramatically worldwide. The great sociability and pseudo smile of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops sp., which embody the human view of the dolphin, indeed favour a perception of these animals closer to myth and romanticism than reality.


However, numerous studies conducted over the past 40 years in Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, and Europe show that these activities can have deleterious effects on cetaceans and may be risky for their admirers. In French Polynesia, recreational and commercial whale and dolphin watching has the potential to disturb and sometimes harm such marine mammals as the humpback whale, common bottlenose dolphin, and spinner dolphin.

This so-called ecotourism was primarily sold to officials and the public based on two benefits: To enjoy the beauty of cetaceans in their natural settings and to educate people about their vulnerability. Yet, current trends show that these benefits are often out-weighed by adverse consequences on the animals' welfare and fitness.


RD's studies specifically focus on the effects of scuba diving tourism on Rangiroa bottlenose dolphins’ behaviour and potential risks for humans and the dolphins associated with close underwater interactions. A PhD thesis is currently being conducted on this topic by Pamela Carzon (PSL Paris Sciences et Lettres Université).

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