On Sunday, incredible footage showed the dolphin known as Nick appear to come right up to swimmers and paddleboarders in Hayle Harbour, Cornwall. But experts warn there is danger
A seemingly friendly dolphin who frolicked with swimmers in a British harbour is potentially dangerous and could administer a slap with its tail so hard that it would “feel like being punched in the face by a boxer”, an expert claims.
On Sunday, incredible footage showed the dolphin known as Nick appear to come right up to swimmers and paddleboarders in Hayle Harbour, Cornwall.
The person who shot the footage said it was a “once in a lifetime experience.”
But Dan Jarvis, a Hayle resident and member of British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), said while it’s easy to get swept up in the moment, Nick is still a wild animal and needs to be respected, Cornwall Live reported.
“The dolphin wasn’t necessarily in distress,” Mr Jarvis said, “but as it engaged with the group and got excitable, you could see it was becoming erratic, there was the potential for injury.
“It was splashing its tail quite vigorously. If that hits you, that’s going to feel like being punched in the face by a boxer.
“These animals are to be treated with caution. They will do some really unexpected and unusual things.”
Nick, Mr Jarvis explained, has developed into what’s known as a “social solitary” dolphin – one which prefers to flit around playing with people and boats, instead of moving in a pod of other dolphins.
Previous sightings of this type of dolphin have injured people and, according to Mr Jarvis, usually wind up injured or worse.
He continued: “We don’t really understand why they suddenly start seeking human company. As they interact more with people, and associate it as a positive thing, the more their behaviours develop.
“This one was following a boat from offshore and came all the way up the estuary. At one point it was trying to put its beak on the spinning propeller – these animals often act in ways we don’t expect, and they don’t always know what they’re doing.”
Nick had originally been spotted in the Isles of Scilly last year and then moved away for most of the past 12 months.
Having returned to Cornwall in recent weeks, Nick has made a few visits to Cornish harbours – including Newquay, St Ives, Carbis Bay, and then Hayle.
Mr Jarvis said he understands people’s excitement at seeing the dolphin, but urged caution nonetheless.
Asked what people should do if they find themselves being approached by a dolphin, he sounded a warning that they could pass the potentially fatal salmonella bacteria to humans.
He said: “The first reaction to you, a dolphin might come right up and be excitable. As you can see in the videos in Hayle, it’s really easy for people to get swept along and excitable. We need to remind people to have a bit of common sense in their head.
“They are mammals like we are, they can give us diseases, especially if they exhale on their face, it’s mucus they’re exhaling, they can transmit salmonella among others.
“The best advice I can give is that people can absolutely adore and respect the dolphins – but from a distance. Ideally get out of the water.
“If you’re on a boat, don’t do high speed turns around it, that’s when they get hit.
“Don’t expect a dolphin to be clever. People will often say, ‘if it wants to go away it will’ and will blame it if it gets hit.”