A bottlenose dolphin that followed a ship for three days, then passed through the locks into the Dutch port of Amsterdam and refused to leave, has returned to the sea.
The adult dolphin, known as Zafar in Brittany where it has interacted with divers since 2018, started following the Tres Hombres off the coast of France as the fair-trade sailing vessel was carrying a load of cocoa beans from the Caribbean. Zafar then passed through the locks at the Dutch port of IJmuiden alongside the Tres Hombres to a dock in Amsterdam where the sea mammal continued to hang out right next to the ship.
Bottlenoses are generally not solitary animals but have been known to live alone.
Because Amsterdam is a brackish port and dolphins need saltwater and saltwater fish to feed on a Dutch animal rescue organization, SOS Dolfijn, tried to lead it back to the sea. The large animal could not be captured because it would require at least 10 people to be in close proximity to one another, an unavailable option due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Initially, SOS Dolfijn’s efforts to get the dolphin to return to the sea failed. The Tres Hombres, assisted by an old tug, was then used as bait to lure the dolphin back to IJmuiden. Once at the locks, SOS Dolfijn personnel used a RIB, some fish and playful interaction to get the bottlenose to pass through the gates and into the sea.
Zafar was last seen hanging out between the piers of IJmuiden harbor by the North Sea.
For video of the uncanny interaction between Zafar, the Tres Hombres and the SOS Dolfijn workers you can go to the NOS Dutch television station website. The commentary is in Dutch, but the footage is worthwhile.