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Thursday 2 October 2014

Say hi to Clet: new dolphin visits Irish waters

Eimear Phelan

Published 07/06/2014 | 12:22

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A new male dolphin called “Clet” has been visiting the south west coast of Ireland recently and was photographed in Glandore harbour, County Cork chasing boats yesterday.

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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has recorded the sighting this week and is monitoring the young male.

The lone Bottlenose dolphin originates from the water around France but has moved around in recent years being spotted off the coast of Sounth Devon, Cornwall and Wales. Clet is identified by a dorsal fin that is slighty scarred with a small piece missing from the top of the fin.

Bottlenose dolphins are usually social animals and live in sophisticated social groups called pods. Some dolphins are lone dolphins who live on their own but may interact with other dolphins.

Paul Kiernan, the welfare officer for the IWDG, warns people that not a lot is understood about lone dolphins and “as humans, we do not possess the power to communicate with these animals and therefore we cannot understand how our actions will be interpreted by a wild dolphin, regardless of whether that dolphin is seeking contact with humans or not.”

He also says that interacting with humans can cause natural behaviours such as diving, feeding and resting to decrease. Some dolphins can also become quite forceful in their contact with humans, butting or biting swimmers or blocking swimmers from leaving the water.

These behaviours can be very dangerous to both swimmers and dolphins. Harmful actions such as swimmers touching sensitive areas of the body such as the head and blowhole or attempting to be towed along by a pectoral or dorsal fin or to ride the animal by straddling its back can really harm dolphins emotionally and also make them susceptible to disease as a result of the injuries caused.

Kiernan recommends whale and dolphin watching tours as a sustainable and responsible way of interacting with cetaceans but recommends the best way to interact with Clet in a non harmful way “is to view him from the safety of the pier or land.”

The IWDG does urge all Irish people to keep an eye out for Clet or other dolphins or whales in Irish waters to report them to IWDG for their ongoing survey.  

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