A rogue dolphin is terrorizing residents of a waterfront community just outside New Orleans. The dolphin, believed to have been separated from his companions by Hurricane Katrina, has attacked at least three people who have entered the waters of Lake Pontchartrain in Slidell, La., ABC reported.
The male dolphin became aggressive only after it began making a home behind the Lakeshore Estates.
"The dolphin was raised back here and all of a sudden I think the mother disappeared and the dolphin just stayed there," neighborhood resident Greg Walters theorized, reported UPI.
He said his niece was attacked by the creatute.
"The dolphin grabbed my niece by the hand," said Walters. "She pulled her hand out of the mouth, and in doing so ripped the tendons out of her hand and had to go to the emergency room."
Experts said the animal becomes aggravated by people living outside of the estates, who attempt to socialize with the animal.
The lone male bottle-nosed dolphin is the only one in the waters near the Lakeshore Estates. Experts believe that the parents swan into the waterway for safety during Hurricane Katrina, but after the storm ended, they left their son behind. So far, three swimmers have been bitten and taken to Slidell Memorial Hospital, reported NOLA.com.
However, removing the animal from the waterway is not a viable solution.
"He'll likely not survive," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration biologist Stacey Horstman, reported NOLA.com. "And even if he's moved, he's likely to return."
Many humans don't blame the dolphin for the aggression.
"He's like a friendly neighborhood dog, but the dog will bite," Durel Landry, manager of the Lakeshore Estates Homeowners Association told King5.com. "If people would understand, he's a wild animal and you have to treat him like he's a wild animal and not jump on him, not go swimming with him. He's not Disney World."
Horstman agreed with that assessment.
"We need to change our behaviors," she said, according to WWLTV. "This is what research is telling us. This is what we've seen in other areas."
She said that for two days she observed the aggressive dolphin, who appeared to have sustained a few injuries, such as a cut from a fishing hook.
"Fishing gear and boat-related injuries are common for wild dolphins that have lost their natural wariness to people and boats because of our interactions with them," says Horstman, according to ABC. "We observed people encircling and corralling the dolphin with their jet-skis and boats. They were also reaching out to grab his fins and flippers and otherwise touch and pet him with their hands and objects."
She said injuries from its interaction with humans are causing the dolphin to become aggressive.
"The dolphin is showing normal male dominance behavior," she said. "However, these behaviors are misdirected at people and boats because of people interacting with him."
Horstman warned that it is not safe for anyone to interact with the sea creature.
"The most important thing to do is to avoid seeking out the dolphin to play or swim with it," said Horstman. "If you are recreationally swimming in the canal, stay close to the water's edge to avoid swimming in the middle of the canal where the dolphin tends to swim. If you see the dolphin, leave the water as quickly as possible to avoid any potential interactions."
For now, there are no plans to remove the animal from its environment.
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