Begging for food from fishermen may be harming dolphins
Researchers at Savannah State University in the US have concluded that dolphins foraging for fish stuck in or stirred up by the long, submerged nets of local shrimp trawlers are passing on this knowledge and behaviour to other dolphins in their group.
However, the research, published in PLOS ONE, also makes reference to the trawling activity having wider, negative impacts on the dolphins, dividing the wider group into those that do beg or forage for fish in the nets, and those that don’t. As well as the physical risks to half the group who do get close to these shrimp nets, there is also a risk that the whole population will split completely into two sub populations (those that beg and those that don’t) that then don’t mix, and so reducing rates of reproduction.
Recently, researchers used data spanning 45 years to illustrate how contact with human’s puts dolphins at risk as they become ‘conditioned’ very quickly, and that this can place the dolphins in harm’s way.