Wednesday 20 February 2019

Angry dolphin strikes again off coast of Galway

Clet was ‘nervous’ before attack. Photo courtesy of
Clet was ‘nervous’ before attack. Photo courtesy of

Joy Orpen

AN experienced dolphin swimmer has described the dramatic moment when an aggressive solitary mammal attacked swimmers off the coast of Co Galway last week.

Last Wednesday, five people were taken to shore by Galway RNLI after the Valentia Coastguard received reports of a dolphin causing difficulty for swimmers in waters off Salthill in Galway.

There was a similar incident last Sunday off the coast of Inis Óirr (Inisheer) - the smallest of the Aran Islands.

Trevor Stoddart, a former member of the Royal Navy, who is now based near Gort, previously had several uneventful swims with Dusty, who has lived in waters off the west coast for the past 14 years, and a second bottlenose dolphin who has been identified as Clet - a young male who was previously sighted in west Cork, and in British and French waters.

But last Sunday things changed dramatically when Clet and Dusty swam close to shore. A young woman tourist waded into the shallow waters still wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Soon after she was struck hard by Clet.

Read more: Five people rescued from water following incident with 'intimidating' dolphin

Within seconds, the agitated animal made for Trevor and attempted to strike him violently on the head and shoulder several times before zooming off. Bottlenose dolphins weigh between 200kg and 300kg, and the pair were lucky to escape with nothing more than shock and severe bruising. Trevor said he had sensed Clet was "nervous" before the attack.

"He was swimming fast and his head was twitching as he came towards me," he said. "I was lucky it happened near the surface as I could fend him off with my hands. He's so big - the thought of him doing that again is pretty terrifying. Judging from the damage to his dorsal fin and seeing the many scars all over his body, it's clear he's been in a lot of fights. I wouldn't advise anyone to swim with Clet."

Since Clet's arrival, many of Dusty's followers have enjoyed watching the pair jump out of the water and riding the bow waves of the many ferryboats. Some of them have swum with the pair in the past fortnight and the consensus has been that while Dusty has been calm and curious, Clet is described as edgy and unpredictable.

Sunday Independent

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