First sighting of dolphin in Irish lake

 

THE IRISH Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has confirmed the first sighting of a dolphin in an Irish lake, in Lough Hyne near Baltimore, Co Cork. This is the first time a cetacean has been found in such an environment.

The group’s sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley said: “The IWDG frequently documents cetaceans in bays, occasionally in estuaries, rarely in rivers, but to the best of my knowledge, and I’m open to correction, this is the first validated record of a cetacean using an Irish lake.”

The sighting was made by Skibbereen-based kayaking instructor Jim Kennedy in recent weeks. He observed and filmed the juvenile/ calf over two days. Images sent to the whale and dolphin group have confirmed that it is a young common dolphin.

While the dolphin may have taken up residence in Lough Hyne, there have, however, been no sightings since of the mammal.

Mr Whooley said: “There were no further sightings after the second day, so we would not be overly confident that it made its way out of the lough into Barlogue Creek and back to open sea. But without any stranding reports within the lough, there is always a chance.”

“It also means we can add another habitat type that can potentially be utilised by Irish cetaceans and, of course, those tasked with conserving and studying this unique site can claim that its species diversity now extends to dolphins.”

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group was founded in 1990 to establish an Irish stranding and sighting scheme and to campaign for the declaration of Irish territorial waters as a whale and dolphin sanctuary.

A year later, in June 1991, the late taoiseach Charles J Haughey declared all Irish waters to be a whale and dolphin sanctuary, the first of its kind in Europe. Two decades later, in April this year, the Haughey family donated the former taoiseach’s yacht Celtic Mist to the whale and dolphin group.

The yacht is undergoing refitting as a maritime research vessel.