A Dutch NGO has called on locals to stop hounding Zafar the dolphin after it followed a ship into port in Amsterdam and was so smitten it at first refused to be separated from the vessel.
The local authorities eventually managed to entice the dolphin to leave the Amsterdam port area on 3rd May due to the reduced levels of saltwater there, however it continued to draw crowds in the nearby harbour town of IJmuiden.
The incident started when sailors on board the ship noticed that they were being followed by a bottlenose dolphin as they journeyed to Amsterdam.
The SOS Dolphin foundation said that the dolphin, which they called Zafar, followed the ship into the harbour which is in the canal that leads to Amsterdam, and despite repeated attempts to get it to follow another ship out, it kept returning.
NGO spokesman Annemarie van den Berg said: “This is an exceptional situation, to put it mildly.”
The dolphin spent the weekend with the ship before experts managed to lead it towards IJmuiden by towing the sailing ship to open water where NGO workers were waiting to guide it further out to sea.
Van den Berg said that Zafar usually lives off the coast near Brittany in France, but when the sailing ship passed by, it decided to follow it.
She added: “It is a special ship, one of the last sailing cargo ships on earth. So it has no engine. We don’t know why this dolphin is so fond of this ship.”
“The water in the port was not salty enough for a dolphin, nor do we know if there is enough fish for the animal, not to mention the heavy traffic in the harbour. The chance of a collision is high. ”
After the dolphin was guided towards sea, the ship was moved back into the canal and the locks were closed to separate the two.
However, crowds built in the town of IJmuiden where the love-struck dolphin was lingering, prompting the NGO to ask locals to leave it alone.
Reports said that a kayaker got into trouble with the authorities when he got too close to Zafar.
A SOS Dolphin spokesperson said: “As cute as it looks, leave it alone.”
After hanging out in Ijmuiden for several hours, Zafar was spotted in the late afternoon by a fishing boat off the coast of the northern Netherlands.
By 10pm, the fishermen could no longer see the dolphin.
Although it is uncommon to see bottlenose dolphins off the Dutch coast, the North Sea is considered an excellent habitat for them.