Abstract: Lone Tursiops/Humans/Belize

Michael Williamson (whe_william@flo.org)
Mon, 23 Sep 1995 12:00:09

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Abstract: Lone Tursiops/Humans/Belize
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Subject:      abstract - lone Tursiops/humans/Belize
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     As a courtesy, the following is a summary of an article recently
     published in Aquatic Mammals 21(2).  Apologies for cross-mailing to
     those folks that subscribe to both discussion groups.  I have supplied
     the author's address to which reprint requests should be directed.
     Aquatic Mammals is published three times a year by the European
     Association for Aquatic Mammals.  Subscription requests should be
     directed to the editor:  Paul Nachtigall, Hawaii Institute of Marine
     biology, P.O. Box 1106, Kailua, HI 96734, USA.  FAX (808) 247-5831,
     email:  nachtig@nosc.mil
 
     __________________________________________________________________
 
     *Dudzinski, K.M., T.G. Frohoff, and N.L. Crane.  1995.  Behavior of a
     lone female bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) with humans off
     the coast of Belize.  Aquatic Mammals 21(2): 149-153.
 
     (*Marine Mammal Research Program, Texas A&M University at Galveston,
     4700 Avenue U, Galveston, TX  77551, USA)
 
 
     For at least eight years, a lone female bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops
     truncatus) named 'Pita', has frequented the waters surrounding
     Northern Two Cay, Lighthouse Reef Atoll, in Belize.  She has actively
     sought human contact  for the past four to five years.  This study
     investigated the history of her interactions with humans and
     documented her behavior nearby humans.  There are some concerns for
     the well-being of both the dolphin and the people with whom she
     interacts.  Specific concerns include an increase in the number of
     people seeking interaction with this dolphin, and a need for official
     guidelines or regulations governing these encounters.  We have
     analyzed both underwater and surface video recordings and conducted
     interviews with people who have interacted with this dolphin.  Pita
     exhibited sexual behavior towards objects, such as anchor lines, and
     occasionally towards swimmers.  She sometimes touched swimmers or
     postured near swimmers.  Pita has directed aggression towards people,
     especially those attempting to leave the water.  Several people have
     been injured when Pita blocked them or hit them with her rostrum as
     they attempted to leave the water.  Many human visitors remain naive,
     and somewhat over-zealous, and continue with attempts to ride her,
     touch her body in sensitive areas (including the genitals and
     blowhole), and generally appear to excite her into potentially
     aggressive and harmful behavior.  Pita is unusual in that the majority
     of lone dolphins that interact with humans world-wide have been male.