Bristol tourist almost loses foot in Bolivia to wild swimming dolphin attack

To view this video, please enable JavaScript and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video

A British tourist has revealed how she thought she might die after a dolphin almost bit her foot while swimming wild.

Claire Bye was left traumatized after the animal attacked her on the ride of her life in Bolivia.

Claire, 28, was swimming in a river in Santa Rosa de Yacuma when a pink dolphin bit her right foot.

She desperately tried to free herself as bystanders frantically tried to pull her out of the water.

The mammal finally released its grip about 20 seconds later and swam away.

But she was ‘appalled’ to see her foot ‘drip blood’ after it was partially amputated.

“I’ve never known pain like this,” Claire said.

“I remember seeing the dolphin out of the corner of my eye and then all of a sudden it pounced on me.”

Claire, from Bristol, has vowed never to swim with dolphins again (Image: SWNS)

“They weren’t the cute looking dolphins we’re used to seeing, it had a huge beak and a mouth full of pointy teeth.”

“I screamed and screamed, but he just wouldn’t let go.

“I felt like he had me for 15 minutes, but apparently it was only 20 seconds before he broke loose and swam away.”

Claire was rushed to a local hospital, which she described as more like a ‘courtyard’ with an ant nest in the bathroom.

“The people there were very nice and did their best to sew my foot up, but they didn’t have any drugs,” he said.

Claire swimming with a dolphin in a river in Santa Rosa de Yacuma, Bolivia

Claire swimming with a dolphin in a river in Santa Rosa de Yacuma, Bolivia (Image: Claire Bye/SWNS)

But her condition deteriorated four days later when she contracted a life-threatening infection.

It was only after frantic calls to the British embassy that she was transferred to a hospital in the Bolivian capital, La Paz, for urgent treatment.

“Honestly, I thought I would lose my footing, or potentially my life,” he said.

It was another fortnight before he was able to return home to Bristol, where he underwent surgery to transfer tissue from his groin to his foot.

He then spent another two weeks in recovery.

Claire left Britain in October 2022 with the intention of spending seven months traveling through Central and South America.

But his trip was cut short just three months after the incident occurred during a jungle trek to explore the Amazon Basin, a part of South America drained by the Amazon River.

Claire feared losing her footing or dying after the attack in January (Image: Claire Bye/SWNS)

Claire feared losing her footing or dying after the attack in January (Image: Claire Bye/SWNS)

She and a friend joined a tour group that included families, led by an experienced guide.

They spent time swimming and playing with the pink river dolphins.

But Claire was unsettled when a boy tried to pick one up.

“That’s when the dolphins became aggressive and some people came out of the water with scrapes on their legs where they had been bitten,” he recalled.

He decided not to go back in the water but to play with the dolphins with a bottle of water, as demonstrated by the tour guide.

But a dolphin attacked her after she accidentally dropped the bottle in shallow water and jumped in to retrieve it.

Claire is now unable to work after the ‘traumatic’ ordeal and has seen a psychologist to help process the incident, which has left her feeling ‘lost’.

“I used to love wild swimming and I hope I can in the future, but I will never swim with dolphins again,” he said.

bye bye claire

Claire has seen a psychologist after the ‘traumatic’ incident (Image: SWNS)

‘I wish I had never been back in the water, it’s hard to think about what life would be like if (it hadn’t) happened.

“What should have been a beautiful experience changed my life forever, it’s incredibly rare for dolphins to attack humans and I never thought it would happen to me.”

An investigation into the incident has been launched, with warning signs posted around the river to alert tourists.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

For more stories like this, see our news page.

Leave a Comment