Dolphins are one of the most beloved creatures of the sea, often admired for their intelligence and peaceful characteristics. However, despite their friendly reputation, dolphins are wild animals with an element of danger when humans interact with them in the wild. Dolphins can become aggressive, and the risks for curious beachgoers and scuba divers exploring the depths of the ocean mix it up with these animals. This article will dive into some of the surprising facts that prove that dolphins can be dangerous, and it’s important to prepare yourself accordingly when you are in their habitat.

Defining Dolphins

Dolphins are marine mammals related to whales and porpoises, according to the National Ocean Service. Found in the oceans around the world and the major rivers of South East Asia, dolphins are members of the cetacea animal family.

Varying by species, dolphins can be as small as 4 feet long and weigh up to 12 pounds while other dolphin species can grow to be 30 feet long and weigh up to 11,000 pounds. Dolphins are highly intelligent with a range of complex behaviors and an ability to consciously remember one another. They live in pods and can be seen near the shoreline surface.

Why Dolphins Are Seen as Passive Animals

Depending on the particular situation and behaviors of certain individuals, dolphins are generally seen as one of the most peaceful creatures living in the sea. Dolphins have been historically associated with mythology and religious beliefs throughout the world’s cultures and religions. They have been seen as symbols of friendship, harmony and power, acting with a calculated or instinctual intelligence, communicating with each other in complex vocalizations and expressing emotions such as joy and sorrow.

Reasons Why People Assume They are Harmless

The main reason why dolphins are seen as harmless animals is because of the way they look and the way they usually interact with humans. They have an attractive, smiling face, long snout and curved fin, leading people to think that they would never attack a person, let alone do it maliciously. Their seemingly gentle and careful behavior around people generates feelings of relaxation and trust between them and humans.

The Truth About their Dangerous Nature

The truth is that dolphins are powerful, wild animals and should be treated with respect as all other creatures. While dolphins may appear friendly and gentle, they’re still animals and they can still be dangerous under certain circumstances. Dolphins, like all other animals, act according to their instincts and can become very aggressive when provoked or threatened.

Signs of Dolphin Aggression

When dolphins are feeling threatened or stressed, they can show signs of aggression, usually expressed in their body language. For example, they may raise their dorsal fin and swim erratically, much faster than usual, or make clicking or “roar-like” sounds that indicate anxiety or anger.

Dangers When Swimming With Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins is a growing trend in many beach destinations. Despite its appeal, it can pose significant risks with the danger of accidental bites, shocks from the high-energy behavior of the dolphins, and even risk of drowning. Due to their powerful physical abilities and reactions, people should avoid swimming with dolphins.

Cases of Dolphin Attack

There have been cases in which dolphins have attacked humans. In 2004, a British woman was seriously injured when two dolphins attacked her during an amusement park show in Australia. Another case occurred when four dolphins fatally mauled a teenager in the Canary Islands in 1999. These types of incidents are very rare, but still serve as a reminder that dolphins are wild animals and can be dangerous.

Risks From Interacting With Dolphins

Interacting with wild dolphins can also be risky, even when they’re not aggressive. Touching and holding dolphins can cause distress or infection from the microorganisms found in their bristles. Additionally, diving too close to their habitat or capturing them for the purpose of marine parks has the potential to cause them harm.

Precautions When Entering a Dolphin’s Habitat

When entering a dolphin’s habitat, it’s important to be aware of their behaviors and maintain a safe distance. The Dolphins and Whales Conservation Society advises against feeding dolphins, swimming with them, encouraging them to follow boats, or any other behavior that suggests they are pets. Dolphins should be viewed from a distance and with respect.

Risks When Sharing Boats With Dolphins

One of the most common risks when sharing waters with dolphins is the possibility of being hit or knocked overboard. This can be especially dangerous for small children or boaters who are not wearing life jackets.

It’s important to understand the risks associated with dolphins and their habitats before swimming or entering their space. Dolphins can be dangerous and need to be treated with respect, as with any other wild animal. Enjoy the beauty of dolphins from the shoreline and follow all the precautions to stay safe.