In mythology, the River Boyne was home to the Salmon of Knowledge, but it was a dolphin that was making waves in the tidal river in Drogheda yesterday.
Believed to be a bottlenose, it stayed swimming in an area some seven kilometres from the mouth of the Boyne and close to a playground, a short walk from the town centre.
News of its arrival was posted by the Boyne Fishermen’s Rescue and Recovery Service, which at first had been alerted to the possibility of a dog in the river. Instead they found themselves, for the first time in their history, in the company of a dolphin.
Among those watching it in wonder was Nicola Matthews who had with her Joshua (5), Zoe (3) and Imogen Matthews (4 weeks) and Theo Doyle (4).
“They have had a clear view of him and have seen him jumping. It is the highlight of the year for the kids especially with being in lockdown,” said Ms Matthews.
“They have obviously been stuck in the house or been homeschooled so I said we would come out and see the dolphin.
“I used to go to see Fungie regularly during the summer as a child with my parents and swim with him. This is the first time seeing one in the Boyne. It is spectacular.
“It is not Fungie; this fella is quite young-looking. There is salmon here in the river so he is fishing here. I hope he is not lost.”
Also watching on was Áine Walsh, an environmental scientist with an interested in conservation.
“It is about seven kilometres in from the sea at the upper reaches of the estuary where the water will start to turn into fresh water from salt water. This fella needs salt water so he needs to turn on the tide hopefully,” she said.
Padraig Whooley, of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said: “It is a large dolphin and likely to be a bottlenose.”
He advised people to “enjoy the spectacle”, but said: “There is no need to jump to the conclusion that we need to intervene.”
There was no immediate concern for the dolphin and he referenced how a walrus spotted off the Co Kerry coast had been seen in Wales four days later.
“We would ask that any sightings with images be reported to us on www.iwdg.ie. These records will enable us monitor the animal and establish whether it stays in the area for a while, or leaves on the next falling tide.”