Saturday, February 04, 2006

Fishing boats warned not to feed wild dolphins

The bottlenose dolphin - nicknamed Marra - was freed on Monday after a month in Maryport's inner harbour.

Experts were alerted after Marra was reported with at least one other dolphin in the outer harbour.
The monitoring operation is now winding down, although fishing boats are being warned not to feed wild dolphins.

Marra became stranded after he followed fishing boats into the harbour that had earlier been throwing food scraps into the water.

The animal then began suffering because the fresh water of the marina was bleaching its skin.
Unfortunately these solitary sociable dolphins are often struck by boats or wounded by people
Hannah Bird, WDCS

Marra - the word means "mate" in local dialect - had become a popular attraction for visitors who had flocked to the marina to catch a glimpse.

Now the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has urged fishing boat crews not to feed dolphins.

Hannah Bird of the organisation, said: "It's very tempting for crews to feed wild dolphins because they are wonderful creatures.

"But the truth is that there is a great risk they can be tempted into harbour areas like Maryport, with the results we saw recently with Marra.

"Most bottlenose dolphins around the UK are encountered in groups. However, occasionally, for reasons that are not clear, some individuals choose to live on their own.

"These animals, like Marra, may often interact with people and it seems that the more that this happens the more the dolphins seem to seek human contact.

"Unfortunately, these solitary sociable dolphins are often struck by boats or wounded by people.
"Marra was lucky on this occasion, but he, or some other dolphins may not be so fortunate next time".

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"