The dolphin has been scaring both tourists and locals with his behavior, which has included swimming up to people and rubbing up against them.
“Ten days ago a dolphin named Zafar appeared a little bit aggressive in our harbor because he blew at a swimmer. She was scared and was screaming and needed to be calmed down. It was difficult but was entertaining to see Zafar swimming in the harbor. We saw a lot of people arriving,” Roger Lars, mayor of Landévennec in Brittany, said, reported CNN.
“Then we saw more and more incidents happening and people being very frightened. It is a big animal, about three meters long [about 10 feet]. Some skippers had difficulties coming back to the harbor. As the incidents got worse I hesitated. I asked some experts and then I made the decision to close the beach as I am responsible for people’s security here. I do not regret my decision as it concerns safety and locals stopped going to that beach because they were too scared.”
Locals said that Zafar was clearly sexually frustrated. The most frightening incident involved the dolphin raising a woman up with his nose, while another woman was prevented from returning to the shore for so long that a boat rescue took place.
Anyone who swims during the ban risks being fined 39 euros ($45).
A frisky dolphin has forced authorities to ban swimming off of the west coast of France ?? https://t.co/BYTfTtUlL1
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 28, 2018
Samy Hassani, director of species conservation at Océanopolis, a local ocean discovery park, told Quest France that the behavior is likely due to the fact that dolphins usually travel in packs.
“If he becomes lonely, he will look for contact, rubbing himself against boats, or people,” Hassani said.
Hassani’s advice led in part to the ban.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation noted that it’s unusual for dolphins to live on their own, an oddity “for what is normally a highly sociable species.”
There are several stages of dolphin behavior when appearing somewhere alone, as the creatures get used to the people there and surroundings.
Stage 3 is when a dolphin becomes so familiar with some people and its new habitat that it will interact directly with people. “Generally, the more human interactions that occur with the animal, the bigger the problems tend to get, and the less likely the animal is to survive. So, our basic advice is to stay away from them if possible,” the group said.
Not everyone is pleased with the ban; a lawyer said he plans to take legal action to have the swimming ban overturned.
“The mayor wants to make dolphins look like almost ferocious beasts, completely unpredictable and likely to drown people,” said Erwan Le Cornec in a statement obtained by The Telegraph.
“If you were to apply these rules across the board, whenever a pedestrian approaches a dog, even if it is on a leash, all the mayors in … France should issue bylaws banning pedestrians in town.”