The plight of a UK woman who had her foot badly bitten by a wild dolphin is a stark reminder of why swimming with whales and dolphins is not recommended.
Claire Bye, from Bristol was left fighting for her life when a pink river dolphin nearly bit her foot off during a wild swim in a river in Bolivia.
Whilst Claire was not on an organised ‘swim with’ tourist excursion, the incident highlights the issues of swimming with whales and dolphins. It is easy for us to be excited at the idea of being in the water with whales or dolphins, but doing that means entering their realm as uninvited guests, and our presence may not always be welcome.
The reality is that it can be a really intrusive and stressful experience for the whales or dolphins, and they may have their young with them. They are wild creatures and unpredictable, even when trained and held in captivity. Swimmers have been known to incur bruises, scratches, abrasions, bites and even broken bones.
Disease transmission is a serious concern too, as dolphins carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and vice versa.
We would always advise people to go whale watching with a responsible operator as a wonderful alternative that can benefit people, as well as the whales and dolphins.