Memorial for Fatally Injured Dolphin to Raise Awareness of Solitary Cetaceans
A memorial to a popular bottlenose dolphin known as Danny, who was regularly spotted off the coast of Dorset until he was tragically killed by a boat strike in 2020, has been unveiled by Marine Connection co-founder, Liz Sandeman, to draw attention to the dangers often faced by solitary cetaceans.
The young male dolphin was first spotted swimming on his own around the Cornish coastline in 2017, where he was affectionately nicknamed 'Splashy' by the locals. He appeared in Dorset waters, mainly around Weymouth and Portland, a year later where he earned the moniker 'Danny'. Pectoral fin identification later confirmed that both Splashy and Danny were, in fact, the same dolphin.
Sadly, in October 2020, Danny lost his life after being struck by a vessel at only 10 years of age. The local community, which had taken Danny to heart, asked for a lasting memorial to be put up in his honour at Portland Marina, Dorset. The project was supported by Marine Connection, and was built with the aid of local company Portland Stone Firms Ltd and donations raised by members of the public and local businesses.
Solitary cetaceans are not uncommon, although why they choose to leave the family pods with which whales, dolphins and porpoises are normally associated remains a mystery. Many appear to take up residence in one particular area, while a small number continue to travel. Despite being separated from their own pods, they remain social creatures and are often subject to regular interactions with humans. While many of these interactions appear to be harmless, they can cause the animal to become habituated to human presence, after which they lose their caution around boats and other marine traffic, which can result in serious injury or, as in Danny's case, even death.
Marine Connection has been campaigning for the protection cetaceans since it was founded by Margaux Dodds and Liz Sandeman in 1997, both of whom had previously campaigned against, and helped to successfully close down, the last dolphinariums in the UK. Over the years, the plight of solitary cetaceans has been taken on by Marine Connection, and Liz Sandemann hopes that Danny's memorial will help draw attention to the need for their protection.
'The memorial ... reinforces the message that when solitary dolphins come into an area, they really need to be given the space to keep them a truly wild animal so they can retain their natural behaviour rather than become habituated over a few months,' said Sandeman. 'So while this is a beautiful lasting tribute to him, it also does have that message behind it.'