Georges the Dolphin

A DOLPHIN came in to the lock at Eastbourne's Soveriegn Harbour after following a vessel at sea - but experts warn 'Georges' is not very friendly.

Morris Abbott, of St Leonards, left Rye in 'Flynn', his 35ft Fin Saler, and was sailing past Bexhill when he saw the dolphin on Monday evening.

The 48-year-old said, "I just saw this big grey fish and it made me jump, I was quite shocked because it was very close to my boat.

"It followed the stern and it was an amazing, good-sized animal.

"He followed me for about an hour but when I arrived at the harbour and put the sail down I could not see him anymore.

"I thought he had gone but a man on the quay was shouting to tell me the dolphin was still following me."

Morris was sailing solo and says it is a shame his children did not witness the event.

"My wife was on the shore at Glynde Gap - I was waving to her from sea so she saw what was going on."

This is not Georges' first visit to Britain's south coast. He first appeared on the UK coastline in 2005 but the mammal has spent the last two years of the French coast.

A spokesperson for British Divers Marine Life Rescue said, "There have been a number of alarming incidents in France.

"BDMLR urges members of the public to keep away from this highly unusual dolphin, which has become totally habituated to humans and seeks contact.

"This dolphin is a large animal weighing approximately 800lbs and in 2005 a number of people were injured when swimming with Georges.

"He behaves in a boisterous and powerful manner and has been seen to 'tail slap' on and near people in the water.

"Members of the public do not understand it is part of his natural aggression and interaction with his own species but if he does it with humans he doesn't know we are not built for it.

"Dolphins are protected by UK legislation and the public are urged not to interact with Georges in the water for their own safety and the safety of the dolphin."

Some of this 'boisterous' behaviour was noted by Morris once he was inside the lock at Sovereign Harbour.

"We were trying to use oars but he didn't like that - he started biting them."

Georges is a Bottlenose dolphin, the most common and well known species. They inhabit warm and temperate seas worldwide - but locals hoping to catch a glimpse are out of luck.

Ben Mellor, Lock Keeper at Sovereign Harbour, said, "This dolphin followed one of our berth holders (the vessel Flynn) into the lock from Bexhill at 6.20pm on Monday.

"The well-known dolphin is named Georges and he left at about 4.40am on Tuesday following a visiting vessel named Dive Star."