Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friendly dolphin injured by boat propeller

Marine experts fear the dolphin that lives off the coast near Folkestone could have been fatally injured after being struck by the propeller of a boat.The dolphin, which has become a tourist attraction after making the Kent coast its home for more than a year, suffered deep cuts to the dorsal fin after being struck by the boat.

Experts fear the mammal, known as Dave but now confirmed as a female, could die if the wounds become infected.The injuries themselves are not fatal - but a dolphin who lived off the north coast of England died last year after suffering similar injuries. Scientists later established the cause of that death as infections contracted after wounding.Jason Carter, of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, has been warning people for months not to approach the dolphin to avoid it becoming humanised.

He said: “Unfortunately as people are continuing to Interact with the animal it is going to be open to more injuries. Injuries such as this are open to become infected by people touching them.”Trevor Weeks of the rescue unit has been monitoring the dolphin since it came into British waters.He said: "We classify Dave as a 'solitary social dolphin' as it is away from the pod."

When this happens dolphins will start to crave attention and company and this is what we are seeing with Dave. The mammal becomes attached to humans and will behave boisterously – and is not aware of its own strength."

And to further create problems it will swim towards any boat as it loves the attention. Inexperienced people will slam on the brakes when they see the dolphin approaching and it will then plough into the vessel."It is not possible to say what actually caused Dave's injuries - but this is a possible scenario."

Kent Police has pledged to arrest anyone harassing or harming the dolphin, but last weekend adults and children were still trying to swim with or hold on to the dorsal fin of Dave.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"