The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is warning the public to stay away from an “aggressivo” dolphin off the coast of North Padre Island in Texas.
The mammal has shown “dangerous behaviors toward people,” secondo a comunicato stampa from NOAA.
“The situation for a habituated dolphin off North Padre Island, Texas is dire, threatening both human safety and the animal’s life,” NOAA said. “Biologists report the animal is showing more aggressive behavior, separating children from their parents in the water, and isolating swimming pets from their owners.”
NOAA believes that “human interaction” changed the dolphin‘s behavior, even though boaters and swimmers are warned not to engage with the animal.
“The dolphin has become so used to humans that it now seeks out people, boats, and any form of interaction,” NOAA said. “In addition to the concerns for human safety, the dolphin has wounds caused by boats and there are concerns for the dolphin’s safety.”
According to NOAA, the marine mammal is now in the final tier of four stages that lone dolphins go through when becoming socialized and conditioned to people.
The dolphin is “a tourist attraction with people coming to see and inappropriately interact with the dolphin,” NOAA said, adding that the dolphin shows “dangerous behaviors toward people, including dominant and aggressive behaviors.”
NOAA is now requesting the public “avoid seeking out the dolphin” e “leave it alone for your own safety and that of the dolphin.”
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Swimmers should leave the water if the animal is spotted, and boaters should avoid stopping to interact with the dolphin.
“While the dolphin may seem friendly, this is a wild animal with unpredictable behavior,” NOAA explained.
Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, any interaction with the dolphin that may injure or change its behaviors is harassment and illegal. Feeding or attempting to feed wild dolphins is also illegal.
Biologists are working alongside NOAA to determine how to protect the dolphin. They are looking at options to “mitigate this unfortunate situation.”