case study: human/dolphin problem

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 13 Dec 1994 14:39:15

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Date: Tue, 13 Dec 1994 14:43:50 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Williamson <>
Subject: case study: human/dolphin problem
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From:	SMTP%"MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET" 12-DEC-1994 17:18:28.71
Subj:	Tursiops in a big trouble needs help!!!
Date:         Mon, 12 Dec 1994 16:44:57 -0200
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Sender:       Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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From:         Marcos Cesar de Oliveira Santos <>
Subject:      Tursiops in a big trouble needs help!!!
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
December, 12th, 1994. Sao Paulo - Brazil. From march to August of this
year, a male Tursiops truncatus was observed "living" next to the
ferry-boat pier of Sao Sebastiao city (23 S) northern coast of Sao Paulo
State. This species is not common so close to the shore in this latitude,
being easier to find it offshore. After this 5 months alone "residence" in
Sao Sebastiao, where nobody got in touch with him, he moved towards to the
beaches of Caraguatatuba, a city very close to S. Sebastiao. Then, from
August till now, he has been making contacts with human beings, like,
simple touches, riding on his back, jumping on his back, trying to take
him out of the water to take photos, putting an ice cream's stick in his
blowhole and even hitting him. Sometimes there was 10 to 30 persons
sorrounding and stressing him. Few people understood the way he was trying
to make contact with them and took those horrible attitudes. Many people
came to Caraguatatuba just to "swim with the dolphin". The local
environment protection governamental organ, IBAMA, noticed the authorities
about possible risks. NO ONE HELPED! Some volunteers (local people and
biologists) helped to notice the public how they could observe the dolphin
without hurting him. It wasn't enough. The dolphin started to hit the ones
who hit him. Few people suffered some injuries. So, on the 8th of
december, after being bothered by many people, the dolphin hit some of
them. One had 2 ribs broken and another, unfortunatelly, died with an
inner hemorrhagia. The dolphin hit him few times. He went alive to the
hospital that attended him two hours after arriving. Some people believe
that it was a fatal negligence of the Hospital (we are checking the
fact), and they found out that this man was drunk when bothered the
dolphin. Just to remind, Brazilian laws don't allow any kind of
bothering, killing or hunting of cetaceans.
We are all worried about new incidents. We are trying to avoid the
contact of humans and the dolphin using boats and a buoy net close to the
shore that isolate the public from the dolphin. It is hard to control the
public. It is a large area and sometimes we just know where he is when an
accident occurs. We are living the school vacancies and a hot summer.
These beaches are crowd. In week-ends, the visitors come in higher
numbers. The local prefect noticed that "the dolphin must be removed or
killed, because he can't loose the tourists money by the presence of a
killer dolphin in the water". Local people does not agree with him, but
some outside tourists are afraid of him. The image of the dolphins in
general is changing to some people. We are worried about it and we have
to run against time. A man was "killed" by a dolphin and this fact can
build a wrong image of a docile mammal. The consequences can be worst!
So, I decided to get in touch with all marmamers to hear about opinions,
sugestions, ideas and even about experiences. Has anybody noticed a case
like this? Please, get in touch with me as soon as possible. We must try
to solve this problem, without injuries to another victim and either to
the dolphin. Let's try to solve this problem together.
Thanks for your kind attention. Greetings,
Marcos Cesar
Biologist - Universidade de Sao Paulo
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