Along the waterways running throughout the Lakeshore Estates subdivision in Slidell, numerous signs are posted, warning people about interacting with one of their neighbors, a dolphin.
As we first reported last year, the male dolphin is believed to have moved into the area during Hurricane Katrina and lost his family in the process.
He’s become a popular attraction and is often seen swimming alongside boats and jumping out of the water.
Recently, though, attacks against several people have raised concerns.
Still, many say don’t blame the dolphin.
“He’s like a friendly neighborhood dog, but the dog will bite,” said Durel Landry, Manager of the Lakeshore Estates Homeowners Association. "If people would understand, he's a wild animal and you have to treat him like he's a wild animal and not jump on him, not go swimming with him. He's not Disney World."
Stacey Horstman, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, agreed.
"We need to change our behaviors,” she said. “This is what research is telling us. This is what we've seen in other areas.”
At a neighborhood meeting Monday, Horstman explained that dolphins living by themselves typically become very sociable with humans over time.
However, that doesn’t mean you should feed them or try to play with them, she said.
"There's people coming out and trying to interact with the dolphin a little bit too closely, reaching over and trying to pet it and the dolphin is a young, juvenile male,” Horstman said. “So, he's doing normal juvenile male behavior. The combination of the two can be dangerous to people.”
As the posted warning signs state, it's also against federal law to feed or harass wild dolphins.
Residents believe some of the taunting comes from visitors, a reason they called for more signs. Some vowed to keep watch for any more problems, including any behavior that could put the animal in danger.
"We just try and encourage people - you can come down the canal and lake and look at the dolphin, but don't get out and go swimming with him,” Landry said. “Don't feed him.”