Dolphin researcher

Scientist at Dolphin Research Center in Florida
tends to a dolphin.

A 2004 NOAA research report [links: Abstract/Summary, Full report ] documented the incidence of marine mammal workers contracting infections and diseases from dolphins and other cetaceans. These scientists and researchers have frequent contact with marine mammals and could be expected to have some “side effects”. However the very significant number of incidents, 23% of the respondents, would appear to indicate that even casual contact with marine dolphins could result in illness. Some survey respondents noted that when they did seek medical treatment, their doctors often misdiagnosed or did not understand what the problem was. It was not until the patients referred the doctors to specialized government health experts that they were properly treated. Even though the probability of disease from casual contact may be low, the likelihood of getting proper treatment from lack of knowledge is also low.


Conjunctivitis, viral dermatitis and bacterial dermatitis were among the illnesses reported.   Possible complications included tuberculosis, leptospirosis, brucellosis, and serious sequelae.   The possibility of getting sick is another reason why people should NOT feed dolphins and should NOT attempt to swim with wild dolphins.