What are Lone dolphins?

By Rania Watts

Why is it that when I hear the term ‘lone dolphin’ I think of the word renegade? Or one who fled away from their dolphin family. 

There have been 90 or so cases globally of lone dolphins. 14 are in New Zealand alone. Solo dolphins are classified as outcasts. However, others postulate that dolphins leave their pod by choice. At times there are factors that separate dolphins such as rough seas, which basically forces them to become lone dolphins as a result of consequence. The tragedy here, is that dolphins are actually very social creatures.

I found an article from New Zealand’s Project Jonah that offered some of advice on how to spend time with lone dolphins. 

Please remember that they are in the wild and that anything in the wild should definitely be approached with caution – regardless of how cute they appear. 

“If you’re lucky enough to spend time with a solo dolphin please follow some simple rules:

Don’t over-crowd them, surround them or block their escape route

Give them space.  Feeding and resting times are crucial. If you disturb them during these times their health will deteriorate and they be more prone to disease

Don’t attempt to ride or be towed by them, or pull on their flippers or fins. These can be easily dislocated

Don’t encourage them to play with toys. These could damage, their skin, eyes and teeth and later by confused with objects like fishing net buoys

Don’t feed them. You could make them unwell and reduce their natural ability to hunt

If you’re in a boat and they’re close by, turn off the engine and remove any nets or fishing gear from the water. Alternatively, move your boat at slow to no-wake speed and keep a straight path to avoid running over them.  

Keep a distance of 50 metres if you can, and only approach them from the side or behind. 

Don’t circle them, surround them or obstruct their path”


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