Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Sun, 21st July

This is the report of a 5-day trip to Fanore of two Belgians, interested in whale-watching for 5 years : Grégor Chapelle (28) and Gaëtan Vanloqueren (24). The goal of that trip was, of course, to meet Dusty. They swam with her four times, around 2-3 hours each time, and tried to interact with her as much as possible: playing new games with new things as they had read that Dusty was interested by new “games” and new things. At home, they are involved in Hydrojeunes, a Belgian association organising sailing trips in the French-part of the Mediterranean Sea with teens having difficulties with their families, school, etc. These whale-watching oriented sailing trips are part of a greater long-term, social and ecological project with the teens and their animators. See for more details.

They swam with Dusty from Thursday the 18th of July until Monday the 22nd so make sure you read their other accounts.

At 7.45 am, the sea was calm and the light wonderful. Grégor, not wearing his wetsuit, called her at the rocky place, hitting two rocks underwater. She came within a minute and went near Grégor to be rubbed a lot. Grégor held her with his hands on her back and sides for a few second while she was moving very softly : she “pulled” him on a few meters. We then walked to the beach and while we were walking, we saw her swimming around a seal! The seal kept coming to the surface and Dusty swam around him each time.

I (Gaëtan) went in the water and Dusty quickly came towards me. Are we better partners than the seal? We guess yes, but actually the seal was fishing: maybe not a good time to play with him. She brought me the algae again! That’s her algae, no doubt about that.

We were running out of new things to present her so I take the sock I was wearing to protect my feet from a small wound. She seemed interested by the brown sock and I gave it to her after swimming with it in my hands for a time. Of course, she went away with it and probably hid it somewhere. Then, I dove and tried to keep myself upside-down, attached to a heavy rock (my head down and my body vertical). She watched what I was doing but kept swimming towards Grégor then back to me then again towards Grégor. Then, while I was resting at the surface, she swam towards me and touched my foot (underwater) with her head. I didn’t understood why, but a few minutes later, I saw my sock in the water, resting on the sand at the bottom of the water!

A man arrived with his two dogs, one of them a Dalmatian. The dogs played in the water, their owner throwing a Frisbee in the water so they would bring it back to him. The Dalmatian seemed very interested in Dusty : he was trying to go towards her and she came closer too, but each time she got too close (three meters ?), the dog barked a lot! He seemed very afraid of the dolphin: he smelt the surface of the water, moved a lot and was shaky. I tried to calm the dog by getting between them, making signs for each of them to come closer but the dog kept barking each time Dusty came closer. Dusty answered the barks once or twice by making bubbles at the surface with her blowhole. We told the dog’s owner to swim with his dogs so they would not be afraid to approach Dusty but he was afraid the dolphin would hurt his Dalmatian. He had heard of a story where a dolphin had drown a woman underwater and kept her from getting to the surface for quite a time. We explained him that the dolphins never do that without good reasons and that he could trust Dusty : she probably would never hurt neither the man nor the dog !

Grégor took pictures of this “three-species encounter”, but this encounter was far from as interesting as the dolphin-dog-horse encounter described in Wade Doak’s “Encounters with Whales and Dolphins”!

Date Posted: 21/07/2002
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