A seaside village in Brittany has banned swimming on its beach because a dolphin in heat has been scaring tourists and locals by approaching them and trying to rub up against them.
The dolphin has even tried to prevent several swimmers from getting back to the beach at Landévennec, using its nose to push one woman out of the water and up into the air.
The beast, often clearly in a state of sexual arousal, also often tries to rub up against kayaks and other small boats.
The three-metre long dolphin, which locals have nicknamed Zafar, has been hanging around the Bay of Brest for months, amusing tourists with its antics as it visited the beaches and shorelines of Plougastel-Daoulas, Logonna-Daoulas and Landevennec.
Children in sailing schools were delighted when the dolphin would suddenly turn up and frolic around their boats, and Zafar sometimes let swimmers grip onto his dorsal fin and go for a ride with him.
But then a few weeks ago he changed.
“Swimming and diving are banned on the village shoreline… whenever the presence of the dolphin is confirmed,” said a new bylaw issued last week by the mayor of Landévennec, Roger Lars.
“Approaching within 50 metres of the dolphin is also forbidden,” said the text.
Mayor Lars was not available for comment when contacted by the Telegraph, but he told local media that he had issued the new rules “to ensure people’s safety” after Zafar’s recent bad behaviour.
“Several swimmers were frightened. He (Zafar) even lifted up a woman swimmer last Thursday with his nose,” he told Ouest-France newspaper.
Local media have been awash with tales of the dolphin’s less savoury antics, with several going into some detail about aghast tourists being confronted with the animal’s sexual arousal.
A dolphin, belived to be Zafar, leaps out of the water off the coast of la Foret-Fouesnant, western France CREDIT: FRED TANNEAU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Dolphins do not have a particular time of year when they reproduce and may mate at any time. They appear to have frequent recreational sex and sometimes display sexual behaviour towards other species, including humans.
Experts point out that they are very large wild animals and could cause serious injury – even inadvertently with a flipper – if they feel threatened.
But attacks or injury to humans by dolphins are so rare that a Breton lawyer says he plans to take legal action to have what he calls the “excessive” swimming ban in Landévennec overturned.
“The mayor wants to make dolphins look like almost ferocious beasts, completely unpredictable and likely to drown people,” said Erwan Le Cornec in a statement.
“If you were to apply these rules across the board, whenever a pedestrian approaches a dog, even if it is on a leash, all the mayors in… France should issue bylaws banning pedestrians in town,” he said.