When Dolphins Turn Vicious

A rash of recent attacks on anglers by dolphin (porpoise) in Louisiana offers a good reminder that these are wild animals with sharp teeth.

Not All Dolphin are Friendly

Not All Dolphin are Friendly

Mark O'Neil, www.DigitalTribes.com

Unless dolphins are stealing our fish or feasting on our releases, anglers tend to think of these warm-blooded seagoing mammals as waterbound allies.

Some anglers in Louisiana lately have been finding out the cute mammals can be vicious.

According to a May 23 report, a Slidell, Louisiana, teenager says he'd been cleaning his hands over the side of a flats skiff when a dolphin lunged at him. It clamped down on Jesse Strahan's left hand, cutting it open. Strahan was treated at Slidell Memorial Hospital.

Apparently several people in that area have been treated for bites by dolphins lately.

Federal law forbids feeding dolphins. That's seemed like a silly law to many anglers, since we know dolphins are our friends and quite harmless, right? I'd say Jesse Strahan would be among those begging to differ with you.

Familiarity breeds unpredictability if not contempt: Anglers should clearly not toss bait or unwanted fish to dolphins; doing so is asking for trouble, at least in the long run. This is also a good reminder why it’s best to do everything possible to release well-resuscitated fish and do so where dolphin are not waiting to snap ‘em up; otherwise, you’re de facto feeding them, even if unwillingly.

I used to think about sharks when I put my hands over the side. Now I’ll keep an eye out for Flipper, too.