Swimmers in Japan Told to Be Wary of Dolphins

Officials have counted 17 dolphin attacks on three beaches this summer
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2022 5:34 PM CDT
Swimmers in Japan Warned About Dolphins
   (Getty/NatureLovePhotography)

(Newser) – Some claim it’s the work of a lone “rampaging” dolphin, but that has yet to be proven. What’s known is that there has been a string of dolphin attacks this summer at three beaches in Japan’s Fukui prefecture, which faces the Sea of Japan. Per the Guardian, officials in the area are warning swimmers to steer clear of all dolphins, and to remember that they are wild animals—not cute, cavorting playmates. Newsweek reports that two attacks occurred on Aug. 11, when two men in their 40s were bitten within hours of each other at Koshino Beach. Both were treated at the hospital, including one who required 14 stitches.

It’s not clear what species is responsible for the attacks, but bottlenose dolphins are known to get stressed out when swimming alongside humans, per the BBC, which says officials have documented “at least” six attacks by the same dolphin so far this summer. However, according to Japan’s daily Mainichi, police say there have been 17 attacks across three different beaches, including Aug. 13 when a man in his 60s was attacked a few yards from shore. "I'd heard about the dolphin on the news and was going to get out of the water immediately if I saw it, but by the time I noticed it, it was right next me," he told the Mainichi.

Incidents earlier in the summer prompted officials to place underwater ultrasound emitters in the hope of scaring the animals away, but that did not prevent the latest attacks. Everyone insists dolphin attacks are rare, but they’re not unheard of, especially among those in captivity. The attacks in Japan have all occurred within about 10 yards of shore, so the dolphins there are obviously not afraid to swim near humans, but experts say they can still get stressed out, especially when touched on the nose or dorsal fin. (Read more dolphins stories.)

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