A WARNING has been issued over a dangerous dolphin that has separated children from their parents swimming off the coast.
It has also isolated pets from their owners in the water, prompting wildlife experts to urge the public to avoid the dolphin at all costs.
Biologists report that the dolphin’s aggressive behavior has recently increased due to repeated interactions with humans.
“The situation for an habituated dolphin off North Padre Island, Texas, is dire, threatening both human safety and the life of the animal,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote in a news release Thursday.
“For more than a year, biologists, law enforcement and area residents have advised people not to feed, swim or interact with dolphins.
“While some have heeded the warnings, others continue to search for the animal.”
NOAA said as a result of interacting with humans, “The dolphin has become so accustomed to humans that it now seeks out humans, boats, and any form of interaction.”
It’s important that people leave the dolphin alone when it approaches them, NOAA said. Although it may seem friendly, biologists warn that it is a wild animal with unpredictable behavior.
If people in the area encounter the dolphin, NOAA has issued guidelines on how the situation should be handled.
For people who are on the water with a boat, a dolphin is likely to approach the boat.
Experts recommend avoiding stopping in this case and slowly moving away from the animal while maintaining the boat’s course and speed.
People should also always keep their hands and feet in the boat and not pet the animal. Eventually the dolphin will leave the area.
However, when a dolphin approaches a swimming person, the guidelines change. It is recommended that the area be evacuated immediately to avoid possible interactions.
Biologists have found that the North Padre Island dolphin exhibits similar behavior to other solitary, social dolphins around the world.
NOAA identified four phases that experts have documented through research:
- The dolphin appears in areas populated by humans, but does not approach them.
- The dolphin begins to follow boats, and humans and humans begin to interact with them by feeding, swimming and playing with the animal.
- The dolphin loses its natural wariness of people and boats and begins to allow more social interactions with humans.
- Media attention turns the dolphin into a tourist attraction for people, who often interact with them inappropriately. Dominant and aggressive behavior will show up. The North Padre Island Dolphin is in phase four.
In preparation for Memorial Day weekend, local authorities will increase patrols in the area.
“Any interaction with the dolphin that could hurt or alter its behavior is harassment and illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” NOAA warned.
The agency added that feeding or attempting to feed wild dolphins is also illegal.
All violations, both civil and criminal, are subject to fines of up to $100,000 and one year in prison per violation.
Experts are also considering other ways to protect the dolphin.
Dolphins are one of the most intelligent animals on earth, with many studies suggesting that they are second only to humans on the brain front.
However, they are also known to be incredibly violent, especially in captivity, and have been known to maim, maim, and even kill humans.
Terrible footage from April showed the moment an enraged dolphin attacked its trainer during a show.
In 2019, Lexi Yeo was devastated by two dolphins who dragged her underwater in a shocking incident at a center in Cancun, Mexico.
And in 1994, a male dolphin named Tiao, known to be friendly to female swimmers, attacked two males in the sea off Sao Paulo, Brazi, after apparently viewing them as romantic competitors.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5440251/dolphin-warning-north-padre-island-texas/ Warning of ‘dangerous’ dolphin separating swimming children from parents and targeting pets off US coast