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'Friendly' Dolphin That Played With People Dies After Being Hit By Boat

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'Friendly' Dolphin That Played With People Dies After Being Hit By Boat

A friendly dolphin that played with people has died after being hit by a boat.

The bottlenose dolphin - who was named Nick - messed about in the water with delighted children and paddle boarders in Hayle Harbour in Cornwall, UK, last month.

But experts warned that the playful animal - known as a 'social solitary' dolphin due to it choosing to interact with humans over other dolphins - was highly unusual and should be treated with caution.

Sadly though, Nick has been found dead after being hit by a boat in Ireland.

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Nick was hit by a boat. Credit: Caters
Nick was hit by a boat. Credit: Caters

Marine experts hope his tragic story will educate people about the importance of interacting appropriately with wildlife, in order to preserve their natural caution.

Dan Jarvis, from international marine animal rescue organisation and charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), said: "Nick's death so soon after he became prolific a few short weeks ago just goes to show that there is still a lot of work to be done in raising awareness to the public of how to act around wildlife.

"Although he will inevitably become just another statistic and case study, we can at least use what has happened to him right now to help get more people to understand why it is important that they listen to the continual messaging organisations like ourselves put out for following a proper code of conduct for wildlife interactions and stop this happening repeatedly, leaving us to pick up the pieces."

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Nick was first identified in the Isles of Scilly in June 2020, and between April and July 2021 he was sighted in County Cork, Waterford and Wexford in Ireland.

Nick was not wary of people. Credit: Caters
Nick was not wary of people. Credit: Caters

In August he returned to the Isles of Scilly and made occasional trips to Cornwall, visiting the Helford estuary, Mount's Bay and St Ives Bay.

He was often seen interacting closely with boats and swimmers, and was last seen alive in Hayle Harbour on 22 August.

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After footage of him interacting with people was shared on social media, marine conservation groups British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Marine Connection warned of the dangers to both people and the dolphin, as solitary social dolphins have been known to injure people, as well as get injured or killed by boat strikes themselves.

Marine experts hope Nick's death will serve as a cautionary tale. Credit: Caters
Marine experts hope Nick's death will serve as a cautionary tale. Credit: Caters

But on 12 September, a bottlenose dolphin carcass was reported to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's Strandings Scheme from Roaches Point in Cork Harbour.

It was later identified as Nick, due to a distinctive scar on his beak and unique markings on his dorsal fin.

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Liz Sandeman, who leads the Marine Connection's social solitary dolphin project, said: "We urge the public to follow strict guidance when in an area that a social solitary dolphin is known to frequent.

"People should not attempt to interact with the marine mammal, as this causes habituation and as we have stressed repeatedly in this type of situation, causes the dolphin to lose its natural wariness around humans and boat traffic and often, as in this case, leads to its demise."

Featured Image Credit: Caters

Topics: Ireland, UK News, Animals, dolphin

Jake Massey
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