An incriminating photo showing a man harassing a dolphin is just one of ‘several negative’ interactions mammal experts said have occurred at South Carolina beaches this week.
The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (LMMN) posted the photo on Sunday and advised beachgoers to to keep their distance from ‘these animals and all wild dolphins.
‘They don’t need our food (it’s also illegal) and this creates bad behaviors by the dolphins,’ the group advised in their Facebook post.
‘This man was catching the fish as the dolphins pushed them ashore and was trying to tease the dolphins and hand it back,’ Lauren Rust, founder of the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, told McClatchy News, the Charlotte Observer reports.
‘As you can see in this photo, the man was practically on top of the dolphin as it fed. People are typically trying to get up close and personal to get photos/videos of this behavior. There are sometimes interactions, like in the (photo), or people yelling, whistling splashing the water to get the dolphins attention.’
The network advised that anyone who sees people feeding wild dolphins, to report them to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources or to them.
Volunteers usually help educate the public on the dangers of feeding wild dolphins, the network said on their Facebook page.
The LMMN has signs that advise the public to view the dolphins at least 45ft from the water line. It also advises viewers to be silent as they watch the dolphins feed.
People often don’t follow the directions.
‘There are a couple YouTube videos of two incidents where two different men jumped on the dolphins as they fed. But we often see people go right to the water’s edge where they come, or sometimes into the water,’ Rust added.
‘It’s definitely dangerous. Dolphins are approximately 400 pounds and have 100 sharp teeth. They can also whack someone with their tail. It’s stupid, dangerous and illegal.’