Lone dolphin may be aggressive warns DoE

| 05/07/2012

Dolphin_FulvioBonati (249x300).jpg(CNS): Marine mammal experts at the Department of Environment (DoE) are warning people not to swim in the water with a lone male dolphin currently swimming around the North Sound. Over the past two weeks, the DoE has received several reports about the bottlenose dolphin, which is said to be approaching boats in the sound, swimming back and forth within small areas for hours or days and rubbing against moorings and anchor chains. "Observing a wild dolphin is a rare privilege in the Cayman Islands,” said DoE Research Officer Janice Blumenthal. “However, wild dolphins, especially lone dolphins, can be unpredictable and dangerous when approached by swimmers.” (Photo Fulvio Bonati)

She added that the DoE was warning members of the public not to be tempted to enter the water with this animal.

"People who have approached the dolphin have reported ‘jaw-clapping’, which is the dolphin rapidly snapping its mouth open and shut. Dolphins use behaviours such as jaw-clapping to communicate dominance among members of the pod. In interactions with swimmers, this can convey agitation and aggression and is a clear warning sign," Blumenthal warned.

This is not the first time the government department have received reports about a lone dolphin and for several years people have spoken of a solitary dolphin living in the North Sound. It is not known whether this bottlenose dolphin is the same long-term resident dolphin. Given its smaller size when first sighted, the DoE believes it might be a young animal which was separated from its pod.

The reasons why some dolphins become solitary are not well known. While some lone dolphins have become famous for their friendly behaviour, international marine mammal experts have many concerns for the safety of lone dolphins and people when interactions occur, DoE experts explained.

The dolphins sometimes display aggressive and sexual behaviours directed toward swimmers who approach or harass them, leading to serious injuries and even death. In addition, veterinary experts are concerned about the potential for transfer of diseases from dolphins to humans and vice versa. For lone dolphins, habituationto people often leads to changes in behaviour, infections and injuries such as propeller strikes from inhabiting areas of high human activity.

To avoid altering the natural behaviour of the apparent local resident dolphin, the DoE is asking asks members of the public who see the dolphin to watch it from a distance, not approach too closely, and not to attempt to feed the marine animal.

In order to gather information on the behaviour of the animal, sightings should be reported to DoE by phone (949-8469) or email DoE@gov.ky.

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Does the dolphin have a work permit?

  2. Verticalpig says:

    "People who have approached the dolphin have reported ‘jaw-clapping’ … rapidly snapping its mouth open and shut."

     

    Imitative behaviour. You get a lot of that around the North Sound, especially West Bay side.

  3. Expat says:

    In other news DOE advises people not to swim alone with a Tiger Shark

    • Anonymous says:

      Dolphins have a reputation for being friendly to humans whereas Tiger Sharks do not. There is no Tiger Shark Cove. Hence the need for the warning.  

  4. Anonymous says:

    He betta watch it for Gene & Dale! They get their paws on him he be in their big pool 

  5. Knot S Smart says:

    Come pretty dolphin… coomme pretty dolphin…

    I always wanted to pet you like I see them doing at Seaworld…

    Coooommme pretty…

    WHOA!

    The SOB bit me .. Help! Help! Help.. SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!

    SOS SOS SOS

    SOB!…

  6. Sick of Cayman says:

    I was in the sound a few years ago, a lone dolphin came under the boat and ran withus for a bit, so what did we do…… yep…… jump in a check him out. It wasn't apparant at first but after all four of us were in the water his behavour changed….. jaw clapping and slapping the surface of the water with his tail. He charged the boat once and we hauled a,s back in the boat.

    Just my advice but if its the only time Cayman listens to these hard working, un appreciated people this might be it. Just know there will be at least me telling you I told you so.

  7. cow itch says:

    its jaws…. da da da da da da da da da da da da…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Don't worry, some party boat or fishermen will soon kill it. Will that lady swimmer do another record attempt near here so that gives another excuse for killing our sea life?

    • Anonymous says:

      caymans sea life was killed by caymanians

      • Anonymous says:

        This is Cayman!  Rule number one: never blame a Caymanian while in Cayman.  Thats what expats are for.  You can think it but never never say it out loud.

        • Anonymous says:

          You forgot to mention that is also rule number one where you come from.

      • Dr. Moody says:

        I beg to differ.  Our marine life began to dwindle after so many people came to live among us, eating up all the fish filet, turtle steak and lobster  tails.  Ask anyone over 60 years old- they will tell you.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yup, them expats love that stew turtle.

        • Anonymous says:

          I am not 60 years old and I know that for an absolute fact.

        • Huh? says:

          Sold to the hotels and  tourists by Caymanians.  This is the same argument as that about SMB being overdeveloped and the land all being held by foreigners.  I dont disagree that both outcomes are bad for the environment and regretable, but please be honest – its not as if Caymanians didnt actively participate or benefit.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    The dolphin approached us when we were swimming off Starfish Point on the weekend. It was a moment none of us will forget. It certainly exhibited no aggressive behaviour towards us, although we made no attempt to touch it or feed it.

    We did see others jumping in the water all around it and I just hope that no-one harms the dolphin in what is, after all, its natural environment.

    It's just a great shame that some feel the need to keep animals like this captive for profit, but that's a whole different thread.

     

     

     

  10. Anonymous says:

    If you filled my world with your refuse, I would be aggressive too.

  11. Anonymous says:

    close the north sound!     there is a wilddoplhin on the loose!….this is unaacceptable in cayman waters!!!!!

  12. teachUs says:

    Why is he so upset?  Oh I forgot, we keep throwing garbage in the sound. And don't forget the CUC plant thats dumping their contaminated water into the sound. Don't forget that we are about to clear almost 1000 acres of land, shetty – 500 acres and an 18-golf course village, 400 acres. By the time we are done with Cayman, all of nature is going to rebel. Swamplands provide moiture in the air, carbon deposits, and helps with flooding. It will be interesting now to see what happens when we bulldoze over our wet lands for the name of development. And then the authorities had to put a ban on a number of fishpots one can use to catch fish. Apparently, some are dropping all like 18 pots into our seas, taking our fish. When I line fish, I am lucky if I get a fry. My point is, WE are killing our own ecological systems and one day, Mother Nature is not going to put up with us any longer. Beware… this dolphin is an OMEN

    • Anonymous also says:

      Don't forget his fellow dolphons that are held captive in two prisons here in Cayman against the bulk of the peopls will.  That might add to his anger with people. Watch the film The Cove.

      • T.S. says:

        True, these have instinctual connections with other dolphins, which science has still not discovered. When these fish separate they communicate with each other and that is how they can travel many miles and find their lost partners. If the mate sends out a signal for help, they can become aggressive.

        • Born Caymanian.. says:

          T.S., you have a point. Perhaps the DOE should conduct a study as to why the dolphin is frequenting the area. Is it something the fish sense that we humans can't pick up?

  13. Anonymous says:

    It's a sign! One dolphin, one vote!

  14. Anonymous says:

    If this dolphin is so agressive, a few Caymanian men should get together and catch it and take it to one of the facilities here.  It would be aweful for this to hurt someone.  Thanks for the heads up DOE.