Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Ferry passengers enjoyed seeing people swim with the dolphin IRELAND MAY-JULY 2001

Local reaction to Dony’s presence on the Dingle peninsula was universally positive, in marked contrast to Doolin. Residents on the mainland were proud to have ‘their own’ Dunquin dolphin and perhaps especially so as he was so much more ‘friendly’ than the nearby Dingle dolphin. Many locals went down to see the dolphin and to swim with him. The only island residents are strong nature-lovers and were very protective of the dolphin at the same time as generously sharing access to the dolphin with all-comers. The boatmen were incredibly patient with swimmers who often got in the way of the operation of the dinghies, and went out of their way to help people have good views of the dolphin, whether swimmers or visitors on board the boats. They also helped to protect the dolphin (and swimmers) from the inevitable intrusion of high-speed pleasure boats which occasionally came out from Dingle on sunny weekends. This was in fact the first case in Ireland where local boat operators have immediately acted to protect a visiting dolphin rather harassing it.

We have no information about this period

Dony alias Georges in Weymouth Harbour 3/4/02 ENGLAND APRIL 2002-
Weymouth in Dorset, where the dolphin re-appeared at the end of March 2002, is a very busy holiday resort and port with numerous charter operations as well as private leisure boats and fishing boats. As usual it was the irresponsible use of small motor boats which caused the problems, not the swimmers. The dolphin received many new propeller wounds, some of which looked serious, although dolphins are much tougher than most people imagine. As a result, many conservation groups and individuals became concerned about the dolphin's welfare. Opinions differed as to how best to protect the dolphin and as in Co.Clare (q.v.) there was a failure to separate in people’s minds the impact of boat based interactions, with the danger of the dolphin being hurt, and the impact of people swimming with the dolphin, where any possible risk was only to the swimmers themselves. It seems that the only consensus which emerged was to try to discourage anybody from taking any interest in the dolphin at all, which in our opinion was a shame, as it missed an opportunity to promote better standards of interaction between people and friendly dolphins, as well as inevitably failing. The dolphin’s presence was widely publicised in the national newspapers and on TV as well as in dive magazines and predictably many people flocked to the resort to see him. Meanwhile, jurisdiction over the dolphin and his activities fell as usual between several stools, with the harbour authorities, English Nature and the police taking a mostly passive role. The local council and business communities seem to have appreciated the potential tourism draw of a resident friendly dolphin, without taking any steps to inform or educate the public, let alone to regulate the increasingly excessive use of motor boats around the dolphin. The result was a situation described by some locals as ‘mayhem’, ‘chaos’ and ‘a nightmare’, though perhaps they were never in Dingle harbour on a summer’s day in the early 1990’s! Finally the coalition of conservation groups which had been assembled to monitor and protect the dolphin split, with a section led by WSPA (the World Society for the Protection of Animals, in case you never heard of them!) attempting at the beginning of June to lure the dolphin away to France, where they thought he had come from. This attempt failed and the situation was resolved shortly afterwards – for Weymouth, at least – when the dolphin moved on of his own free will to Salcombe and thence to Plymouth.

During his sojourn in various south coast resorts through the rest of the summer of 2002, Dony continued to delight hundreds of swimmers and spectators of all ages whilst drawing a huge amount of adverse publicity in the media. We tried to investigate each new case of 'Dangerous Dony' supposedly attacking or injuring people and never found any basis for the accusations which were made. What seems to have happened is that irresponsible and lazy journalists were reproducing the platitudes being churned out by a handful of self-appointed dolphin conservationists, who were arguing the dangerous dolphin angle, without actually investigating for themselves. Most of these people were nowhere near the scene at the time of the various incidents alleged. Others seemed to want to keep everyone else away from the dolphin and to make a distinction between themselves in their self-appointed roles as dolphin protectors and the ordinary public. It's also possible that novice swimmers misinterpreted Dony's behaviour and over-reacted to his habit of opening his mouth and snapping. Whatever, no broken bones were reported and no blood was seen on the beaches of Dorset, despite the enormous provocation to which the dolphin was subjected at times. Attempts to prevent people swimming with the dolphin failed due to his pattern of keeping on the move every few days.
Date Posted: 14/07/2001
Date Edited: 24/09/2007

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