Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dolphin seeks human contact

A lone dolphin is making friends with sailors and lifeboat crews around the south-west of England.
The dolphin, named Findol after a children's book character, was pictured playing with the Penlee lifeboat crew this week off the Cornish coast.

It is believed to be the same creature that was seen playing among boats in Plymouth Sound earlier this month.

Dolphins usually travel in large "pods" but Findol seems to have been rejected and is swimming alone.

Patrick Harvey, deputy coxswain at Penlee Lifeboat Station, said: "He was very friendly, he came right up against the boat and let us stroke him.

"He was rolling over so we could rub his belly.

"I have seen lots of groups of 20 or 30 dolphins together when I'm out at sea but this is the first time I have got so close to one to touch it.

"It was amazing."

Dolphins are commonly found swimming in hierarchical groups but occasionally, lone males are banished from the family for various reasons.

Dolphin expert Peter Bloom, who works with the marine mammals at Flamingo Land in North Yorkshire, said: "It is highly likely it is the same dolphin.

"This behaviour is rare but not unheard of, there are sometimes one or two going around the British coastline."

Findol joins a number of famous friendly dolphins around the South West including Donald, who was well-known to fishermen in north Cornwall in the 1970s.

In the 1980s, Percy became a big attraction at Portreath and last year a dolphin named George has been playing among the boats in Weymouth, Dorset.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"