A "lonely" dolphin has been making waves off the coast of Australia's east coast, where swimmers say she has been approaching them in the shallows to play. The bottlenose dolphin, likely about three or four years old, has been swimming right up to people for the past two weeks, diving over them or sidling up for a scratch. Surfers have even reported the animal grabbing their leg ropes, according to Guardian Australia:
Scott Quin was swimming with friends in Pittwater near Palm Beach wharf in early December when the dolphin appeared beside them. He said he had heard the dolphin was in the area.
"The dolphin swam up [to us], and it would swim around the anchor lines of boats and things rubbing up on them," Quin told Guardian Australia.
"Then it would come over and nudge at you, it definitely liked a good scratch. If you swam away it would swim around you jumping out of the water and sometimes over you.
"Whenever a boat came near or the ferry arrived or left it would swim off for a while and go have a good look at what was going on, swim around the boats for a bit and then come back," he said.
Despite the appeal of the friendly female, wildlife officials are asking people to limit their interactions with the animal, hoping that it can one day rejoin a wild pod nearby. They even tried capturing and relocating her, but she came back to the swimmers, the Guardian reports:
Shona Lorigan, vice-president of the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (Orrca) told Guardian Australia she understood it was difficult to stay away from the animal. "It's very hard to resist her when she swims right up to you, but we're trying to get people to limit their interaction," Lorigan said.
Along with Orrca, Australia's National Parks and WIldlife Service has asked members of the public to report sightings of the dolphin and take note of its behavior.