Thursday 18 December 2014

Alert after 'aggressive' dolphin pushed man underwater in Cork

NICK BRAMHILL

Published 10/08/2014 | 02:30

Clet the dolphin
Clet the dolphin

Swimmers in west Cork have been urged to keep their distance from Ireland's newest solitary dolphin after reports that a man was "aggressively pushed underwater" by the mammal.

Clet, a male bottlenose dolphin originating in French waters which later moved to England waters, was first spotted off the south-west coast of Ireland in June. But unlike Fungi, Dingle's most famous resident, Clet has been described as having a contrary nature and has prompted marine experts to issue a warning to curious swimmers.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) said it had been made aware of an attack by Clet just over a fortnight ago close to Sherkin Island in west Cork.

In a report, a spokesman for the group said: "Clet may not be enjoying the attention being paid to it in recent weeks in west Cork. We are aware of a report of an adult swimmer nearby in wetsuit and mask from a yacht at anchor being aggressively pushed underwater by the dolphin. They got a bit of a shock as a result. The report goes on to say that the dolphin attacked twice and lashed out with its tail."

In recent weeks the IWDG's executive officer, Dr Simon Berrow, issued a separate warning to Aran Island swimmers following the arrival of another bottlenose dolphin, called Dusty, to their shores.

Dusty, otherwise known as Sandy, had previously frequented Doolin harbour in Co Clare for 14 years, but last year as many as five swimmers were injured after getting too close to the dolphin.

Dr Berrow pointed to research which suggests that eight out of 10 sociable solitary dolphins who interact with humans end up dead or injured. And he said that people's perceptions that dolphins are fun-loving, playful creatures are misplaced.

He urged people in west Cork to enjoy the presence of Clet from the safety of the shore or from licensed ferries.

The IWDG report added: "Bottlenose dolphins are not cute and cuddly, they are not our 'friends' and nor do they benefit in any meaningful or long-term way from interacting with humans.

"The evidence from those in the UK and France who are more familiar with this individual than we are here is that Clet does not seek out humans to swim with, and we feel this says enough.

"Do not confuse the shape of their jawline with a smile. They can and do cause serious injury to humans and have killed in the past."

Sunday Independent

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