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Warning as children swim with wild dolphin in Somerset (Update)

Bermuda Sun

By Mikaela Ian Pearman, Online News Reporter
Monday, August 12, 2013 2:21 PM

A dolphin that appears to be stranded near Somerset Long Bay has been in the area all day.

The dolphin has been swimming with children but one source said wild dolphins can be dangerous as they don’t know if humans are a threat or not.

It was first spotted at 10am this morning and Surf Sup owner Larry Fox said it has been around all morning.

Mr Fox said the dolphin is about four to five feet long.

“It didn’t appear as if it was in any distress. It was just swimming around with us.

“I first saw it at 10am this morning. It’s been here all day.

“It’s over by Cambridge Beaches now.”

He continued: “I don’t know if something’s wrong with it or if it’s lost its family.

“It would be over there swimming right next to us and we could touch it. It was that close.

“It would swim away and it would come right back.”

Mr Fox said when Dolphin Quest staff came onto the scene, they told everyone to stay away from the dolphin.

‘They aren’t fisheries. They don’t have that authority.

“I don’t think it was in any danger. The kids were swimming with it.

“It wasn’t thrashing around or anything.”

While dolphin aren’t looked at as being dangerous, attacks can happen.

One source who has volunteered with dolphin strandings said: “The most important thing that the Dolphin Quest community will be concerned with
is the health and well being of the dolphin plus the safety of the public.

BS_130814_1a.jpeg
The dolphin was very close to the beach. *Photo supplied by SurfSupBermuda

“They are likely strongly advising people not be in close vicinity to it for both its and their safety.

“Dolphins are mammals and are therefore air breathers, sadly, this dolphin may be sick and has come to shore as it would instinctively know that it needs to be in shallow water. ??“A sick animal will leave their group as they are weaker and could therefore risk attracting predators.”

The source continued: “It is first and foremost a wild animal – unfamiliar with people, it may be sick or stressed.  

“Its natural behavior includes using its teeth - the lines you see on the surface of dolphins skin are usually superficial and called 'rake marks' and are either from play or defensive.

“Their tale flukes are incredibly powerful which could accidently hurt someone if you are standing too close.

“There is currently no stranded dolphin/whale program on the island, but there are a team of fantastic animal care-givers at both Dolphin Quest and BAMZ who have practiced procedures and protocols for situations just like this one.

“The public needs to let the professionals do their work, assess the situation, and hope for the best outcome.”

Last May, three people were attacked by a wild dolphin in the small town of Slidell, Louisiana.

The male dolphin has been living in a canal in the town since 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

According to Fox 8 newschannel, a teenage boy was bitten as he put his hand in the water to wash it off.

A girl was also bitten and ripped the tendons in her hand as she pulled it free from the dolphin’s mouth.

At the time,  Emergency room Dr Lloyd Gueringer told the Fox 8 news channel: "This is out of the ordinary. I've never seen it before and I've been practising emergency medicine for over 30 years."

Experts believed the dolphin has become used to being fed by local people and had begun its attacks because it now associated humans with food.

We have called Dolphin Quest and the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo to get more information without any response.

Guidelines for observing wild dolphins

If you plan to observe wild dolphins in their natural habitat, whether by personal water craft or aboard a tour boat, NOAA Fisheries Service recommends that you follow the guidelines below for responsible viewing.  These guidelines have been established to reduce the potential or inadvertent harm to marine mammals that may result from viewing activities.

• Observe wild dolphins from safe distances of at least 50 yards; use binoculars or telephoto lenses for a better view of the animals.

• Limit overall viewing time to no more than 30 minutes.

• Make no action to circle or entrap dolphins or dolphin groups.

• Avoid abrupt movements or loud noises around dolphins.

• Do not separate mother/calf pairs.

• Move away slowly if a dolphin’s behavior indicates the animal is stressed.

• Do not touch or swim with wild dolphins, even if they approach you.

• Do not feed wild dolphins; it is harmful and illegal.

Source: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/SwimmingWithWildDolphins.htm