Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
Home page
More about
sociable, solitary dolphins
Pictures of the dolphins
Latest news
Interesting links
Subscribe to our newsletter

Reaction to Boats

Dony preferred people to boats IRELAND 2001
Dony's reaction to boats was different from that of other solitary dolphins we have observed. He rode in the bow-wave of the island ferry boat and other fishing-type boats, but did not usually follow speed-boats and inflatables except when they were ferrying people slowly to shore. When he did follow these small boats though, he often had his nose very close to the propeller and his beak certainly bears the marks of too-close encounters. When the dolphin was interacting with a swimmer it was not possible for boat-users to distract him away by driving close and/or revving engines, as frequently happens with the Dingle dolphin.
When Dony first arrived in Baile na nGall the report was that he had followed a local fishing boat all the way from Carrigaholt in the Shannon estuary. We were sceptical of this at first as there were no previous records of such a long journey by a dolphin following a boat.

FRANCE 2001-2
However this now seems more probable, following the well-documented travels of ‘Georges’ in France – a dolphin we later showed to be Dony in another guise and who seems to have become even more keen on 'hitchhiking' boats over the intervening year. Reports from Cherbourg to La Rochelle speak of this dolphin following fishing boats from port to port and it is possible that this is how he arrived in England in March 2002.

During his stay in Weymouth, Dony was very interested in all kinds of small boats from canoes to RIBs and hard dive boats. He nosed and played with wooden paddles and stuck his beak, sides and back right into the moving propellers of outboard motors, with predictable consequences in terms of wounds and scars. One report spoke of him actually slowing a spinning prop, and another of him ‘beaching’ himself on the dive ramp of an inshore lifeboat. Several teams of conservation activists including British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) members tried to encourage the dolphin out to sea, where they thought he would be safer than in the harbour, by giving him a ride out in their stern wave and then steaming back at full speed to leave him out there. This did not work, as he soon returned to the much more interesting activities going on inshore. Nevertheless a rival organisation, the ‘World Society for the Protection of Animals’ (WSPA) continued to believe that they could lure him to follow their boat back to France. However, they were wrong, and the dolphin left of his own accord after they had abandoned their attempt. Even friendly dolphins, it seems, only hitch rides from boats when they are going in the right direction!

FRANCE 2003-7
During this period Dony was exposed to a huge variety of boats. He seemed to be as comfortable playing with a jet-ski as with a kayak (though the same can probably not be said for any observers in the water or on land!). His favourite kind of boat, though, was a ferry: one plying a regular route back and forwards fitted the bill perfectly. Examples included the service from Audierne to Ile de Sein and from Le Conquet to Ile de Stiff.

Again Dony was seen to follow yachts, speedboats, rowing boats, inshore rescue boats, fishing vessels, kayaks and jet-skis, all in the space of a few days. It was observed that he was biting at oars when around rowing boats. And he spent some hours following the Fowey to Megavissey ferry backwards and forwards (Cornwall).
Date Posted: 14/07/2001
Date Edited: 24/09/2007

Powered by WebPilot

© 2001-2007