Daves fate remains unknown as experts again warn of risks to friendly dolphins Published: 30 November, 2007
DAVE, the famous friendly bottlenose dolphin who has been living on the same small part of Kent coastline for almost 20 months, is missing.
For almost the whole of her residency, she was easily visible from the shore and attracted many hundreds of visitors, but the last confirmed sighting of her was three weeks ago.
All tame solitary dolphins are exceptionally vulnerable and over the last few months Dave has suffered many injuries. However, she was last seen to be healing and had also increased her home range, and it is hoped that she has ventured elsewhere.
Members of the UKs Marine Animal Rescue Coalition (MARC) working with a team of local volunteers have been trying to keep her safe and hope that she has simply moved elsewhere after receiving her most recent injury, which left her missing a third of her tail. Those trying to protect her have repeatedly warned that a solitary dolphin that has been tamed – as a result of the attentions of many people in the water with her – would be very vulnerable to injury or death from ship strikes or fishing equipment. This has been the story of many other tamed solitary dolphins and whales from around the world, as they lose the natural caution they need to survive.
Laura Stansfield of WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, comments: “We all fell in love with Dave and hope that she has simply moved away. Solitary dolphins have been known to reunite with their own kind before and this would be the best possible outcome. However, the UKs other bottlenose dolphins are all quite far away and we are fearful that because of her disability, or some interaction out at sea, that she may have been killed.”
Margaux Dodds of Marine Connection said: “We would urge people not to panic simply because Dave is no longer in her usual area, she could have simply moved on of her own accord. Some years ago, another solitary social dolphin, Freddie, was injured by a boat and a few weeks following his injury, he also moved off. That is the beauty of wild dolphins: they have free will to go where they want, when they want and we hope she has simply decided to return to her own kind.
Tony Woodley of BDMLR adds: “We have become very attached to this dolphin, but the lesson learned from her life and that of many other solitary dolphins is that we cannot keep them safe in our waters once they have become habituated to human company, and Dave has been hugely at risk since her first appearance in 2006. There needs to be tougher and more understandable laws to protect the UKs marine mammals from direct harassment.”
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