Friday, September 07, 2007

Dolphin's interactions with humans are surprising!

A dolphin called Georges caused a splash when he befriended two jet skiers.

Georges, a lone bottlenose who spends his life traversing the English Channel, followed the men back into Shoreham Harbour after approaching them out at sea.

The creature, who was given his Gallic moniker because he spends a lot of his time off the French coast, is well-known to marine biologists for his unusually fearless attitude towards humans and vessels.

Alex Darroch and Justin Huxtable were initially terrified when they spotted Georges' fin in the water.
Alex, 22, said: "I thought it was a shark. It jumped up and splashed back down, and the wave knocked me into the water. I reached up to the throttle and accelerated away at full speed without even bothering to get back on.

"Even when I realised it was a dolphin I was still pretty scared, because it was so big and powerful."

As they headed for the shore Georges appeared again, jumping up between the jet skis.
He followed them into the harbour and spent an hour splashing around in the water with the pair, even allowing them to stroke his belly.

Alex, from Lancing, said: "I think it was attracted by the speed of the ski and the way it was turning. It was almost as if it thought we were dolphins too.

"After a while we started to get a bit concerned because he was swimming up the river and we thought he might get beached.

"There were quite a lot of people around and he seemed to be getting agitated."

The men contacted the Coastguard and tried to get Georges to follow them back out to sea, but each time he returned to shore with them.

Eventually a lifeboat managed to tempt him out of the harbour and shake him off their tail.
Experts say Georges is highly unusual because of his itinerant lifestyle.

He first appeared off the coast at Bexhill on Monday, then moved on to Eastbourne and Brighton before appearing in Shoreham on Tuesday evening.

He was last seen off the Dorset coast.

Trevor Weeks, of British Divers Marine Life Rescue, said members of the public should not try to interact with Georges, for their sake and his.

He has pushed children into deep water, bitten ankles and even hospitalised two adults after batting them with his powerful tail.

Trevor said: "He weighs 800lb and is basically just one big muscle. He can be quite boisterous and can hurt people."

Well-meaning humans can also pose a risk to dolphins.

Trevor said: "A lot of dolphins end up being hit by boats and dying because of interaction.

"Dolphins always attract a lot of attention, but the best thing is to ignore them and watch them from a distance on the shore."

Have you ever encountered a dolphin while in the UK or abroad? Tell us about it below.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"