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Monday 16 September 2019

Move over Fungi: Miracle dolphin Spirtle beats burns to move to Kerry

A sighting of Spirtle near Fenit, Co Kerry
A sighting of Spirtle near Fenit, Co Kerry
Pod of dolphins off the coast at Fenit, Co Kerry

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

A Scottish dolphin that was feared dead after suffering severe sunburn has been spotted in her new home off the coast of Ireland.

Fungi may have some competition in Kerry waters, as sightings of Spirtle suggest the bottlenose may have settled in Ireland's south-west.

After washing up on Aberdeen's shoreline in 2016, Spirtle was given little chance of survival.

Her recovery was monitored closely for two years, but she had not been seen since September 2018.


Sightings off Wicklow in May confirmed that the famous dolphin was still alive, and after a period of eluding experts, recent sightings of Spirtle in Fenit, Co Kerry, reveal that she may remarkably be planning to stay, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

"We thought, it can't be, but there were pictures sent in and it was Spirtle," IWDG CEO Simon Berrow said of learning that the bottlenose was still in Ireland.

"We just managed to establish that she is part of a Scottish group. A small group with five or six dolphins, and one of the group is actually her mother.

"There is a juvenile too, which could be Spirtle's sister or brother."

According to Mr Berrow, even surviving her stranding was a miracle for Spirtle, her right side having been left red-raw after baking in the heat on mudflats in the Cromarty Firth, Moray.

"You wouldn't have given that dolphin any chance whatsoever," Mr Berrow said. "It was unbelievable. Lost, stranded dolphins and porpoises generally do die... With severe sunburn like that, on a young animal, you wouldn't give it any chance at all."

He ruled out any romance between Spirtle and Fungi, saying: "Fungi is an old man and he's past anything at this stage."

Irish Independent

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