Thursday 17 August 2017

WATCH: Dogs meet dolphins off the Skelligs - best boat trip ever?

Forget Star Wars. Ireland's Skelligs have thrown up another fantasy in this real-life footage from an Irish family holiday.

"We didn't need lightsabers for excitement out there!"

So says thrilled Mayo man, Noel Kelly, who captured this stunning footage of a Risso's dolphin swimming in a bow wave off the Kerry coast.

Kelly and his wife Louise, daughter Rachel and son Shay, along with cousins Sheila, Ava and Luke, encountered eight of the dolphins close to the Skellig Islands.

To their delight, one of the dolphins swooped in to surf the boat's bow wave on three different occasions - for up to 10 seconds at a time.

The Kellys were enjoying a boat trip with John O'Shea, Noel's brother-in-law, who runs Skellig tours and fishing trips from Derrynane harbour.

Risso's dolphins, with their distinctive, sickle-shaped fins, are regular visitors to the south and southwest coast, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (iwdg.ie) - although close encounters and bow surfing is less common.

"It was a beautiful day, and there were common dolphins around, but then we spotted these unique dorsal fins near the Skelligs," says Noel, who runs Kelly Environmental, a consulting and advisory service based in Mayo.

"To my shame, I'd never heard of Risso's dolphins. I thought it was a killer whale! I've since searched YouTube and every other website going and only found one other clip of a Risso's dolphin bow-surfing."

The three dogs on board - Bokety, Luna and Gypsy - were intrigued by the surfing cetacean... and it seems their interest was returned.

"They're John's dogs, and they seemed to attract the dolphin," Noel says. "He rolled onto his side and seemed to look up at them...'

Whale, dolphin and basking shark sightings have been on the rise off the Irish coast in recent weeks, ranging from spectacular humpback whale displays off West Cork to basking sharks feeding off Ballycotton, the Blaskets and Achill Island.

"We also saw two minke whales and a seal eating its lunch on the way back," Noel laughs. "We didn't need Star Wars that day!"

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