Biologists with NOAA Fisheries and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network have become increasing more concerned with beach goers riding a friendly dolphin near the North Padre Island.
According to NOAA Fisheries Service, the dolphin was first spotted last year in March 2020. Since then, more members of the public have arrived to swim with, ride, jump on and pet the dolphin. They are also encouraging others to interact with the animal.
Biologists are urging people to view the dolphin from a safe distance and are warning people that encouraging the dolphin to interact with people is very dangerous for the animal’s ability to survive in the wild. Human interactions lead the animals to become too trusting thus losing their wariness of people and boats – too often leading to boat accidents and fishing gear entanglements.
Watching these beautiful animals from afar is the best way to ensure the dolphin’s safety. The dolphin has been recently observed with injuries consistent with a propeller injury along its left side. The animal is being monitored to determine the extent of its wounds.
Experts have stated relocating the dolphin is not an option. The area is now the dolphin’s home, and it’s up to humans to change their behavior and not the dolphin’s behavior or its home.
NOAA Fisheries recommends allowing a minimum of 50 yards between themselves and federally protected dolphins. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is issuing tickets to people seen feeding or harassing the dolphin, violations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. These fines can range between $100 – $250 per citation. If you see potential violations, please report them to the enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964.