Fans of Finn, a bottlenose dolphin who has been living in Carlingford Lough for more than a year, should “stay out of the water and enjoy the spectacle from the shore”.
That’s according to Padraig Whooley, sightings officer with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, who said there are concerns that, “the more people engage with this animal, the more people turn him into a local pet (and) the more we are encouraging this aberrant behaviour. It is not natural for a bottlenose dolphin to seek out human company”.
Finn has become a popular attraction to Greenore and Carlingford Lough, but concerns have been raised after recent pictures show he has what appear to be new cuts on his back.
The injuries were highlighted in a post on the Facebook page of Carlingford Lough and Cooley Peninsula which said: “Dolphins are wild animals and also a protected species. If disturbed whilst feeding or resting, Finn may, understandably, attempt to protect himself and unintentionally cause injury to those around him.
“Therefore for the safety and welfare of both the dolphin and members of the public, we would like to call on water users (including swimmers, jet skis and motor boats) frequenting the area around Greenore Point, where Finn frequents, to please consider watching him from a safe distance, observe an exclusion zone around the area and do not swim in the water as the area is notorious for having very dangerous currents, another fact which must also be considered.”
Mr Whooley said dolphins, like Fungi or Dusty, are the only ones who behave as if they seek out humans.
“Other dolphins don’t do it, it seems to be a weakness of the DNA of bottlenose dolphins that they can show this aberrant behaviour where they kind of seek out human company. For what reason we don’t know, but it is a quirk in bottlenose dolphins.”
“If people want to sit and enjoy what is a fantastic spectacle, do it from the shore. Grab a pair of binoculars and watch him from the shore.”
Meanwhile Louth Senator John McGahon said on Monday that there is a need for more lifeguards and lifesaving equipment as sea and inland swimming grows in popularity.
“During lockdown, many people developed a new found love for swimming. Whether it's sea or inland swimming, so many of us have taken up this brilliant form of exercise.”
However he said that, “with the increased numbers of sea and inland swimmers, we need to ensure that everybody stays safe. Recently we saw too many tragic drownings over a short period of time, and unfortunately in Ireland, we have had an average of ten drownings per month over the last ten years”.
“I would like to see a commitment to installing more lifesaving equipment at the popular spots where people swim. We also need to see more lifeguards on duty, and for longer periods of the year, not just in the summer months, in the off-peak season too,” he added.