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Zafar the bottlenose dolphin in Amsterdam harbor

Zafar - the outlawed dolphin - visits Amsterdam

Recently a 3m bottlenose dolphin has made the headlines in the Netherlands.

The dolphin paired up with an engineless cargo vessle named "Tres Hombres" 3 days prior to arriving in the Netherlands.

The Fairtrade sailing vessle was on the final leg of its 2 month voyage to the Dominican Republic where it picked up Rum and Cacao for the European market.

That the dolphin joined a sailing vessle was not so strange, however the dolphin liked the boat so much that he even went through the lock in IJmuiden together with the boat.

It is an extraordinary feat for a dolphin as the sluice must be a pretty scary accoustic box for such an animal.

The dolphin ended up in the Amsterdam harbor +/- 20km from shore in brackish, almost fresh, water..

Not a great situation for a dolphin to be in as they belong in salt water, where they will also find their natural prey.

I photographed him next to the beautiful sailing boat, in that respect, Zafar knows what a nice boat looks like ;-) 

NGO SOS Stichting Dolfijn cooperated with the authorities and many others to get the dolphin back out to sea, on the right side of the sluice gates.

They succeeded after two days, a great, but hardwon success. They had to bring all their knowledge to the table (including information from the French people that interacted with him regularly) to lure him out.

I documented most of the rescue, so will post some more images later.

It turns out that the dolphin is pretty (in)famous as he is known to frequent the waters around Brest (west-France).

He has actually made a journey of over 800 kilometers to get to Amsterdam!

Comparing pictures of his head and dorsal fin characteristics revealed that the dolphin is named Zafar and has been interacting with people for years. 

Some of his interactions turned out pretty violent which led to the closing of a beach in France in August 2018.

It turns out a three meter long, wild, testosteron charged dolphin is not your average play buddy.

He is known to rub forcefully against boats and has obstructed swimmers to leave the water multiple times.

It is advised to be very cautious around this boy!

There are more dolphins (especially bottlenose dolphins) in the world that interact above normal frequently with humans.

Interestingly enough I wrote a story about this phenomenon years ago (2013), where I did not mention Zafar as I was focused on the UK dolphins back then.

Check out this article about the friendly dolphin phenomenon.

During the Corona crisis many stories were surfacing about wildlife coming closer to humans (including dolphins in Venice), of which some were pretty much nonsense.

This one was real!

To be continued..

joostvanuffelen's picture
About the Author:
Joost loves the oceans, travelling and (underwater)photography. Combining those three elements he creates ocean art, travel reports and ocean photo stories...


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