Video shows harm from human interactions with dolphins

Jan 11, 2014 1 comment By


Did you hear about Beggar? He’s the wild dolphin who died prematurely, at least partly due to human interactions.  Beggar was fed by humans, which contributed to his demise.

A new video about Beggar has just been produced with  a grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) to the Chicago Zoological Society.

The video chronicles Beggar’s life since first being observed south of Sarasota Bay, Florida, in1990 by SDRP staff, until his untimely death in 2012. He was observed numerous times each year, and he was the subject of a 100-hour field study, which documented 3600 interactions with humans, 169 attempts to feed him a total of 520 different food items, and 121 attempts by humans to touch him.

Along with video and photos of Beggar’s interactions with boaters, it shows the impact of the interactions on his natural behavior and probable factors that contributed to his death. What makes his death especially unfortunate is that it is illegal under Federal law for humans to approach or feed wild dolphins.

Beggar was 32 years old at the time of his death – far short of the 50 years we have documented for some males in Sarasota Bay.

This video about Beggar is the first of a series. With the support of the DWCF, we will continue to develop new videos, taking advantage of our long-term records of recognizable dolphins, to help the public better appreciate dolphins as individuals with lives worth protecting.

We believe that people relate to the dolphins as individuals with homes, histories, survival dramas, social lives, behavioral quirks, and local families in a positive way, instead of simply thinking of them as non-descript gray bodies in the water.


Do you value and support conservation organizations?

If so, please consider supporting the SDRP.  Become a member or donate to the SDRP.

Your contribution will help make the work possible.


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About the author

Blair Irvine, PhD, is retired and manages the SDRP website, serves as President of the non-profit Dolphin Biology Research Institute, and he volunteers as otherwise needed. He started the SDRP in 1970 with then-high school student Randy Wells. Blair led the research into the late-1970’s when Randy took over. After that, Blair's non-dolphin career was in the area of human behavioral health. With NIH support, much of his research was involved Internet interventions and training programs. His graduate degrees are in Zoology, Exercise Physiology, and Health Education.

One Response to “Video shows harm from human interactions with dolphins”

  1. Patricia Maine says:


    Thank you for sharing this important message about keeping a healthy distance when admiring our beautiful oceanic neighbors.


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