Skip to main content

When dolphins attack: Dusty's dust up off the Irish coast

By Carol Jordan, CNN
August 5, 2013 -- Updated 1944 GMT (0344 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reports suggest Dusty the dolphin, found on the west coast of Ireland, has attacked swimmers
  • A woman was hospitalized last Sunday -- the fourth incident since May
  • Authorities are now erecting warning signs around Doolin Harbor, County Clare
  • The bottlenose dolphin is listed as an endangered species

(CNN) -- She's a charming cetacean who one minute will allow you to put your arm around her -- and the next leave you nursing injuries. As swimmers off the west coast of Ireland are finding out, you don't mess with Dusty the dolphin.

Now authorities have been forced to erect signs around Doolin Harbor, County Clare, after a woman was hospitalized last Sunday by the feisty bottlenose dolphin -- the fourth such incident since May.

Dusty has a checkered history in the area. First spotted in the waters off the coast of County Clare in 2000, reports began to surface as far back as 2004 that she was a little temperamental. According to media reports, one diver even claimed that Dusty had tried to drown her.

Officials say that a record has never been kept of precisely how many incidents Dusty has been involved in -- but they believe that the number has escalated this year. Village suggest this could be because Dusty moved to Doolin Harbour -- which is much more heavily populated with swimmers than her previous hunting ground -- back in 2011.

How dolphins talk to each other
Saving dolphins from danger

In the latest incident, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group reports that Dusty rammed a woman in the abdomen resulting in her hospitalization. It's only the latest in a series of incidents, the group says, with one woman having to be flown back to Germany via air ambulance as a result of her injuries.

The IWDG also warns that pursuing Dusty could also result in an injury or even a fatality. And don't even think about trying to take her picture. As one sign states: "If she does grab a camera etc, let her have it, or she might ram you or hit you with her tail."

Clare County Council has now commissioned the IWDG to produce advisory posters warning people not to approach Dusty. It has also asked lifeguards to put out red warning flags whenever Dusty is spotted in the area.

But beyond that there's little else the authorities can do: the bottlenose dolphin -- which can grow up to 10-feet long -- is an endangered species and is protected under law.

Swimmers on the west coast of Ireland -- beware.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT