A dolphin that injured swimmers along the north Clare coast in recent months has itself been attacked.
Incidents involving people calling the dolphin to the water’s edge and physically abusing it have been reported this summer.
“I was shocked to see people going into the water with cameras and poking it and trying to ride on its back, and these were not children, these were adults,” said ISPCA inspector in Clare Frankie Coote.
“I also got one report that there was a novelty going on whereby people were bringing the dolphin over to close to the water’s edge and trying to pour alcohol into its blowhole and throwing fags and other objects at it.
“I got a feeling from the locals that when you get a spell of fine weather you get young lads coming in and it gets bad and then it lays off again,” he said.
Mr Coote is urging people to report any such incidents they witness to the authorities.
“Some people have been swimming with the dolphin for years and have no hassle, but other people see this and they think they can get in and do the same.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the dolphin ends up paying for all this with its life,” he said.
The Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard has been called to four incidents involving swimmers and the dolphin this summer.
Station officer Mattie Shannon is calling on people to exercise caution.
“People need to remember, in the first place, she is a wild animal. You wouldn’t jump into a pen with a bull, so why would you get in the water with a dolphin?” Mr Shannon asked.
“There is a woman who has been swimming with Dusty for years, but they have built up a relationship. Others see this and think they can have the same relationship. This is not the case.
“We would advisepeople to stay away from the dolphin. She isnot necessarily aggressive, but she may feel the need to protect herself and lash out with her tail,” he said.
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