There have been stories about dolphins saving people and being friendly toward people. But in Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain, what's being described as a rogue bottlenose dolphin has developed a habit of biting people.
The male juvenile dolphin has been living in this wetlands region alongside New Orleans since swimming up from the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Katrina.
Only recently, however, has the dolphin begun to bite swimmers and menace boaters. Nola.com is reporting that three swimmers have required hospital visits in the past year, because of dolphin bites.
The dolphin is believed to have entered the waterway with family, but is now by itself and increasingly aggressive.
Perhaps this is because people have come to regard the dolphin as a tourist attraction, and have been feeding and attempting to play with the mammal. Perhaps, also, the dolphin has reached the playful age and knows only one way to play.
Jesse Strahan, 19, was bitten recently while leaning over the railing of a boat to wash his hands. He described the incident to Nola.com: "Within two seconds of seeing the dolphin alongside the boat, I began to back up from the water. I was 4 or 5 feet off the water when he jumped up and attacked my hand.
"All of my fingers and half of my palm were in his mouth."
Durel Landry, manager of the Lakeshore Estates Homeowners Assn., told King.com: "He’s like a friendly neighborhood dog, but the dog will bite. If people would understand, he's a wild animal and you have to treat him like he's a wild animal and not jump on him, not go swimming with him. He's not Disney World."
Slidell's Lakeshore Estates residents, whose upscale homes are nearest the dolphin's territory, have become increasingly concerned and have begun to meet with officials from various agencies to discuss possible options.
Signs cautioning people to keep their distance and to avoid feeding the dolphin have been posted throughout the area (feeding and harassing a wild dolphin are illegal activities).
NOAA biologist Stacey Horstman is quoted as saying the dolphin probably would die if it were relocated back into the gulf, but this dolphin has been feeding on his own since being weaned.
"And even if he's moved, he's likely to return," Horstman said.
She also suggested that the dolphin may just have become a bit too comfortable in the company of people and is being overly playful.
Landry added: "We just try and encourage people -- you can come down the canal and lake and look at the dolphin, but don't get out and go swimming with him. Don't feed him."
If people would only comply, the problem may more or less resolve itself.