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Thursday 24 July 2014

Expert team to keep Dusty the dolphin safe from blasts

Andrew Hamilton

Published 11/06/2014|02:30

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A TEAM of marine experts will be deployed to ensure that Dusty the dolphin and other local marine life are not hurt during a series of planned explosions at Doolin Pier.

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The detonations, which are part of the construction process for the new €6m Doolin Pier, were due to take place last Thursday and Friday but were delayed for operational reasons.

Three marine experts from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) will be joined by a team of professionals from consultants Aquafact to minimise any injury or disturbance that might be caused.

This is the first time that the impact of major coastal blasts on marine mammals has been taken into account since the adoption of new guidelines by the National Parks and Wildlife Service last December.

The safety team will conduct a detailed inspection of the surrounding waters during the explosions and no detonations will be allowed until 15 minutes after a dolphin, porpoise or other creature is sighted.

Dusty the dolphin was most recently spotted on Inis Oirr on Monday, and it is hoped that she will remain on the nearby Aran Islands until all the blast work can be completed.

Although based in Doolin, Dusty follows the local ferries to and from the Aran Islands, and often spends a number of days there.

Marine

"Dusty is on the Aran Islands at the moment and she should be safe out there – but there are a whole array of marine mammals in the area. Dusty is just one," said Simon Berrow of the IWDG.

"Granted she is the most famous, but there are a large number of mammals that we are looking out for.

"Our objective is to make sure that no mammals are harmed in the explosions. It is a good plan, we have spent a lot of time working on it, and we are hopeful that it will be successful."

Construction work on a new €6m pier got under way last month and it is expected to be completed by the middle of next year with Clare-based construction company L&M Keating carrying out the complex build.

A new pier for Doolin has been in the pipelines for more than a decade but the development was subject to an extended planning process following objections by surfers who felt the pier would alter the waves.

Irish Independent

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