Friendly wild dolphin which keeps swimming up to play with people and even let them RIDE him may likely be killed by so much human interaction, wildlife experts warn
- Texas wildlife officials are warning residents near not to interact with a friendly dolphin near North Padre Island
- If they pet, feed or ride the dolphin, they will be fined, under federal law
- Dolphins are common in the area, but the lone dolphin first appeared in March 2020
- Dolphin usually swim in pods, ranging anywhere in size from 2 to 30 individuals
- The dolphin has become somewhat of a tourist attraction in the area
- Relocation is not an option, as it does not benefit the dolphin or solve the problem
After pleading with residents not to interact with a friendly dolphin near North Padre Island, Texas officials are now telling residents they will be fined if they go near it.
According a Facebook post from the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TMMSN), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s office of law enforcement is going to hand out fines ranging between $100 and $250 if they see people petting, feeding or riding the lone dolphin, which first appeared in March 2020.
‘With the upcoming holiday weekend and increased boat traffic, it is more important than ever that we join together to protect this dolphin and to KEEP IT WILD,’ TMMSN wrote in the post.
‘Our monitoring team witnessed firsthand that if you leave the dolphin alone and do not engage with it, it will eventually return to its natural behavior, even foraging for fish. Do not engage, let it stay wild!’
Texas wildlife officials are warning residents near not to interact with a friendly dolphin near North Padre Island
Dolphins usually swim in pods, but this lone dolphin first appeared in the area in March 2020
The dolphin has been seen swimming in the Corpus Christi/North Padre Island area
Dolphins are not uncommon in the Corpus Christi/North Padre Island area, as there are a number of dolphin watching tours in the area.
However, a lone dolphin is a rare sighting, as the oceanic mammals usually swim in pods, ranging anywhere in size from two to 30 individuals.
People have shared their interactions with the dolphin on social media, with it becoming somewhat of a tourist attraction, according to the Star Telegram, but officials are wary to move it.
‘Research shows that relocating a wild dolphin is not a favorable option for the dolphin’s survival and is not likely to solve the problem,’ NOAA wrote in a June 23 post on its website.
‘This is especially true when people have taught the dolphin to associate with them by feeding and interacting with it. This area is now the dolphin’s home.
‘If moved, it would either return to the area or move the same problem behaviors to another area, decreasing its chances of survival. Instead, biologists explain, we must change human behavior, not the dolphin’s behavior or its home.’
NOAA also noted that human interactions ‘could be dangerous—even fatal—for the dolphin.’
It’s unclear how old the dolphin is, but it has increasingly become comfortable around people, something experts are concerned about.
‘Human interactions cause animals to lose their wariness of people and boats, leading to boat strikes, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear,’ NOAA added.
‘In fact, this dolphin was recently observed with wounds consistent with a propeller injury along its left side.’
A study published earlier this year found that dolphins have similar personality traits to humans, displaying curiosity, sociability and a personality trait with a blend of ‘extraversion and agreeableness.’
NOAA and TMMSN are working in conjunction to monitor the dolphin and continue to warn people not to feed or go near the dolphin, as both are illegal under federal law.
‘Experts say loving them from afar is the best way to insure a dolphin’s ability to thrive and live a full life,’ NOAA added.
Those who witness violations can call the enforcement hotline at (800) 853-1964.