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Friendly dolphin phenomenon

In may 2013 we went to the Irish westcoast to meet a local celebrity named Dusty. This female dolphin has been known to interact with people for years. Later, in 2020, a solitairy male bottlenose dolphin visited the Netherlands, was rescued from being entrapped in the harbor of Amsterdam in an epic multi-day rescue effort. Sadly, Zafar died later presumably in a collision with a boat and washed up on the beach. The Netherlands does not see many bottlenose dolphins visit its coastlines. It was both a rare visit as well as a sad end to an otherwise interesting story.

The friendly dolphin phenomenon is actually quite common and subject of debate amongst many dolphin enthusiasts and biologists. Why these animals seek out interaction with people (and in Duggies case even a dog!) is still unkown, but I discovered various theories for this phenomenon. Also, I learned that most of these friendly dolphins tend to change their behavior as the interactions intensify and become more frequent.
Fungie for example was known to be very friendly upon his arrival in Dingle, but got a worse reputation as time went by and he became a touristic attraction.

Zafar's reputation lead to the closing of a beach in Bretagne before he went on a 800km journey to the Netherlands.

See also this blogpost on the friendly dolphin phenomenon as well as this blogpost on Zafar's arrival in the Netherlands.

Note: I do not recommend touching wild animals, they are after all wild. The divers in these pictures have build a longstanding relationship with Dusty and the dolphin welcomes them into her world.

Many images of this portfolio were published in articles for DUIKEN magazine: "Dusty, een tuimelaar met attitude" and "Zafar, de redding en ondergang van een veelbesproken dolfijn".

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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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