Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Interactions with other dolphins

We had no reports of Dusty interacting with other dolphins until the end of 2001. There was a rumour that she had a calf in the early part of 2001 and that this was either still-born or died shortly after birth. If anyone has any photos or eye-witness accounts of this, please let us know.
Other dolphins are quite often reported as passing by the Fanore coastline and they are surely aware of each other. In March and again in April 2002 Dusty had visible tooth-rake marks on her skin.
On April 13th, 2002 we saw two adult bottlenose dolphins with a calf come right into the bay where one of us was swimming with Dusty. The dolphins didn't appear to interact although the vistors came very close to the shore. They left within about 5 minutes, but the next day we could see new toothrake marks on Dusty's belly.
From time to time since then people have reported other dolphins visiting Dusty's corner of the bay but we have no photos of these encounters.

On the evening of July 18th 2003 Dusty again received a brief visit from three dolphins. Dusty stayed very close to the rocks and appeared to keep away from the visitors, who swam within 4m of her and then disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.

Especially during 2003 we’ve had an increasing volume of reports about other dolphins visiting Dusty’s area, but conflicting opinions about whether she has actively interacted with them or not. On 3rd October 2003 a most dramatic incident occurred in which three larger dolphins, believed to be male, chased Dusty into the shallows where she was apparently taking refuge and forcibly took her out to sea with them. This was witnessed by observers both in the water (Ute and Jane) and on the shore and was concisely described to use by one local commentator as ‘Dusty was gang-banged’. That may sound over-dramatised, but during the late 1980’s researchers in Shark Bay, Western Australia, did indeed record the forcible abduction of female bottlenose dolphins in oestrus. Richard Connor and Rachel Smolker observed that male bottlenoses, in that population at least, form durable ‘alliances’, typically of 3 animals (one dolphin on its own cannot effectively coerce another dolphin), apparently for the specific purpose of forcing copulation on unwilling females, either by all the males or by the two most dominant ones amongst them. Certainly this behaviour could be described as ‘gang rape’ if it took place within human society, though we should as usual be wary of anthropomorphising.

Male coalitions have not been found to be universally prevalent in other bottlenose populations world-wide, and the abduction of one dolphin by others, with or without forced copulation, has not previously been recorded in European waters.

Once again, observations of an ‘aberrant’ solitary dolphin have added interesting new information to our knowledge of bottlenose dolphin society in general.

Please let us know if you have seen or heard of other interactions.
Date Posted: 14/07/2001
Date Edited: 23/12/2003

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