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
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 0214 GMT (1014 HKT)
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0118 GMT (0918 HKT)
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2106 GMT (0506 HKT)
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1239 GMT (2039 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