Research by University of Otago scientists shows dolphin tourism can have a negative effect on the animals.
The research focused on spinner dolphins off the coast of Egypt, but the researchers said it also had lessons for New Zealand.
The study was conducted by scientists from the University of Otago, working alongside researchers from Italy, Hong Kong and the Falkland Islands.
University of Otago department of zoology researcher Maddalena Fumagalli said the study focused on three areas: one with no tourism, one with controlled tourism and one with uncontrolled tourism activity.
In areas where access was unrestricted, the dolphins could find it impossible to rest, which affected their well-being, she said.
That could eventually lead to the decline of the dolphin population.