While doing some research on dolphins to write an article for Duiken Magazine I learned that Dusty is not the only friendly dolphin out there. Famous dolphins like Dusty, Fungie and Duggie have been known to interact with humans for extended periods of time. Although all of these examples occured in Irish waters, many more examples are documented inside and outside British waters.
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 three main theories for this phenomenon. Also, I noticed 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.
The Tory Island dolphin Duggie was one of the Irish stars who made friends with a local labrador named Ben. Below a wicked video shows their interaction in the harbor of Tory Island.
Whatever the reason is for the friendly dolphin phenomenon, it is a truly amazing spectacle to see wild dolphins interact with people on their own terms. Dusty is free to go at any time and still chooses to interact with people. Stories like Dusty's however start out with a mutual beneficial relationship for both the dolphins and people, but have a rather negative end to the story. Other friendly dolphins were becoming more and more frustrated. They sometimes even became aggressive when more people were drawn to the water to interact with them!
Leaving Dusty in Spring and knowing that her own success might (have) become a problem for her wasn't really a reassurance. As we left Ireland I was wondering what would happen in the summer to come. Last week news about Dusty reached me via Twitter. Dusty had been involved in a so called unprovoked attack. A video taken by a spectator showed the attack, but more context (what happened before the attack) was not shown...