THE IRISH WHALE and Dolphin Group is making a renewed appeal to swimmers in Clare not to antagonise a bottlenose dolphin known locally as ‘Dusty’. It’s after a number of people were hospitalised as a result of being rammed by the mammal in recent weeks.
In the latest incident, a woman was rammed by the dolphin in Doolin on Sunday night. According to the Irish Coast Guard, she was treated at the scene for her injuries before being transferred to hospital by ambulance.
Around four or five other people have been hospitalised as a result of interactions with Dusty, according to the IWDG. One woman was medivaced back to Germany after she was rammed by the bottlenose in Fanore, and the group says this may only be “the tip of the iceberg”.
The IWDG has placed posters around the slip and harbour in Doolin, and the group says it’s never wise to swim with wild dolphins or whales in Ireland:
The risk is not only to humans but also to the dolphin as habituation to humans increases risk of injury or death to the dolphin.
Around 80% of such interactions worldwide end up in the death or severe injury of the dolphins involved.
The IWDG poster says that if swimmers insist on swimming with Dusty, they should “respect her as a wild dolphin and not grab, lunge or chase after her”, adding:
If she shows agressive behaviour or is boisterous they should leave the water.
Following the increase in incidents in recent weeks, the IWDG says it’s concerned that many visitors, especially in the summer “do not recognise the signals that Dusty sends out when she is not happy with their behaviour”.
There are fears that authorities may be forced to remove or destroy the mammal if there’s another serious injury, or a fatality.
Dusty’s reactions to swimmers who get too close can be observed in the below video. As poster John Landy notes, the dophin “had been playful and friendly all afternoon, then one of the bathers went too far and the results can be seen”.
(Youtube: John Landy)