We are very sorry to learn of the recent death of the friendly dolphin known as Flint or Paquito, who lived in San Sebastian in the Spanish Basque country, for the last 6½ years. Flint never attracted the interest which the ‘Irish’ dolphins have done, perhaps because he was not especially interactive, and he lived quietly in the Bay of San Sebastian right opposite the popular main town beach until last year, when he moved to an adjacent bay which was considerably more polluted. Few people were interested in swimming with Flint even before this move and his only regular companions since 1999 have been our correspondents Txoko and Gonzalo, who also travelled to Ireland to see Dusty in Fanore. Txoko last swam with Flint on the 25th March and Gonzalo saw him on the 26th when he seemed to be in normal health. However on recovery of Flint’s body last week, an autopsy showed possible symptoms of pneumonia, which could in turn have been caused by a number of agents including bacterial infection. We hope to get a full report on this in due course. Flint survived the devastating Prestige oil spillage in 2002 but we don’t know if inhalation of oil particles may have weakened his lungs and/or immune system; certainly living in a shipping channel to an industrial port, as he did for the last 12 months, is unlikely to have done his health any good.
Any dolphin’s death is very sad, but those who have chosen to interact with people hold a special place in our hearts. Our thoughts are with Gonzalo and Txoko who have suffered the loss of a dear and treasured friend and companion on their almost daily swims. If, as I fear and suspect, Flint’s demise was linked to the pollution of his environment, it is doubly tragic. We are all responsible for this as we all tolerate and buy the products of an industrial system which in its drive for greater profits deliberately and knowingly damages and destroys the marine ecosystem.