Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dave the dolphin, a wild attraction

Dave has been seen swimming 30m (100ft) out to sea along the reef between Folkestone and Seabrook since April.

He is still attracting up to 150 visitors a day and a website devoted to him received 302,000 hits this month.

"We would have expected a drop in trade by now but it hasn't happened," said a chamber of commerce spokeswoman.

"Along with the mild weather, Dave has been a real boost for Folkestone."

We are hoping Dave will stay for years and be well looked after.

Simon Chandler

Caroline Chambers, manager of Channel Chamber of Commerce, said Dave had even livened up a conference for 1,000 business people in September.

"These things can be a bit boring but he was performing for all the delegates, who were watching from the Leas Cliff Hall overlooking the bay," she said.

Angler Simon Chandler, who set up the website, is now selling t-shirts, caps and stamps to visitors.

Any proceeds after the site costs have been covered are to be donated to the charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue.

Simon Chandler is known in the town as "Dave's manager"

Fears for Dave's safety have led to appeals from police for jet skiers, kayakers and motorised boats to keep at least 100m away from the dolphin.

Tame animals such as Dave which look to humans for social contact can also be at added risk because they lose their natural fear of vessels.

Mr Chandler said people were aware of the danger but everybody in the town was "delighted" Dave was there.

"I don't think anybody would deliberately cause him harm and we have learnt a lot, so nobody has been near him for ages," he said.

"The experts say that when dolphins get too attached to us it does tend to end badly.

"But we are hoping Dave will stay for years, be well looked after and have a long and happy life."

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"