The Irish Times
11th August, 2001
The wild female bottlenose dolphin off the coast of north Clare will seriously injure anybody who swims with it, according to Clare County Council's water safety development officer, Mr Liam Griffin.
Mr Griffin issued the warning after a man in his 30s was removed unconscious from the waters off Derreen West, a cove a mile south of Fanore, where he swam with the dolphin last Monday. It is understood the man was carried by waves and hit his head off rocks. He was treated at the scene by an off-duty doctor, was transferred to Ennis General Hospital, and later discharged.
Mr Griffin said yesterday: "Lifeguards from the nearby Fanore beach go up to the area where the dolphin is on a regular basis. They blow their whistle telling people to get out of the water, but they are wasting their time." The dolphin, known as Fáinne, swims close to the coast road, and last Sunday there was a tail-back for half an hour with hundreds of people arriving. "People are coming from far and wide to see the dolphin. Hopefully, it will go away because its presence is presenting a major headache to the council." Mr Griffin's fears were echoed by the chairman of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Dr Simon Berrow.
"Someone will get hurt. It must be understood that the dolphin is not a circus act or a plaything, she is a wild animal. However, I think that people will ignore all pleas until someone does get hurt." The same dolphin attracted visitors to cliffs south of Doolin last year. There were fears then about the safety of swimmers, but the problem is more acute now because of the number of visitors.
A notice posted in the area warns swimmers not to grab the dolphin. It says: "You cannot predict her behaviour, she has been known to be dangerous when harassed." Dr Berrow said there are cases of dolphins ramming people to death and killing other dolphins.