In early February 2017, a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) was observed for two weeks in Saint-Malo (Brittany, France), first in the port of Bas-Sablons and then between February 14th to 16th in Vauban port. In order to gain entry into this port, the dolphin had to go through the locks. He showed truly atypical behaviour, remaining in the port, taking great interest in the boats and especially by allowing himself to be enclosed within the port several times without making any apparent effort to escape. Going through the locks does not seem to bother him.
This behaviour has nothing in common with that observed of dolphins swimming along the Emerald Coast in large numbers, so he is likely to be a solitary dolphin and probably unknown to the local population.
We therefore contacted various observers of solitary dolphins throughout France to find out if this dolphin was already known to them. Considering his apparent ease of contact with humans and staying within the port infrastructure, it would seem to indicate that it was not the first time he had exhibited such behaviour. Unfortunately, we received no positive recognition; no one knew this dolphin ...
No one until we received an e-mail all the way from the Baltic Sea! From Professor Boris Culik, a marine mammal specialist, who works with the Helmholtz Oceanographic Research Centre in Kiel on the north German coast.
Professor Culik informed us that last year a bottlenose dolphin exhibiting very atypical behaviour was present in Kiel harbour and he too also regularly got through the double locks into Kiel Canal which connects the Baltic and North Seas. It was this detail which allowed Pr. Culik to make the link between "Fiete / Freddy" (his local name) and the dolphin in Saint-Malo.
After comparing pictures of the dolphin in the Baltic Sea and images we had of the Saint Malo dolphin, we were able to confirm that this was indeed the same dolphin. One who has travelled more than 2 000kms between Kiel and Saint-Malo within the space of 2 months!!
In Germany, news of "Fiete / Freddy" was eagerly awaited and the media quickly relayed that he had been found!
Solitary dolphins are sometimes extremely attached to an area: such as "Fungie" who has been living in Dingle Bay in Ireland for over 30 years. Others however, are known to be more itinerant, such as "Jean Floc", who after several years spent near Brittany, left for Galicia via Biarritz, a journey of about 1 200 kms. There is also "Randy" aka Dony, aka Georges, commonly seen at the tip of Brittany and who regularly sets off on journeys: initially observed in the south-west of Ireland, then in County Kerry, then in France (La Rochelle, l'Ile d'Yeu, Dieppe, Le Havre, Dunkirk, Boulogne-sur-Mer ...) before slipping into the Dutch canals and passing through Belgium. An amazing trip of over a year and a half! (Source www.dauphinweb.com)
According to our research, "Fiete" could be the European travel record-holder with a trip of nearly 2 000kms between Kiel and Saint-Malo within the space of 2 months.
Fiete has not been seen in Saint-Malo since February 17th which probably means that he resumed his journey, but where to? Will he go up the English Channel to return to the North Sea, then out to the Baltic Sea, or will he go westward? Will he next show up in Ireland or along the coast of Wales? To answer this question, we remain particularly vigilant to any new observations of solitary dolphins and we would request anyone who comes across them it to please send us any news.
Many thanks in advance!