Stay away from unpredictable dolphin, swimmers warned


Ryan Nugent

SWIMMERS have being warned to stay away from a dolphin after Bernardos chief Fergus Finlay was attacked while on holidays.

The former Labour adviser was swimming in the Aran Islands when he had his formidable encounter with Dusty the dolphin.

The 65-year-old told the Herald how he was in the water around Inis Oirr harbour with his daughter and two grandchildren when the dolphin head-butted him full force in the upper thighs.

The dolphin was known for erratic attacks when she was in Co Clare, and since a move to Inis Oirr last year signs have been put up around the harbour warning swimmers.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Water Group said swimmers have to be aware of the dangers with dolphins.

"It's hard to know what is going through Dusty's mind. Is she protecting herself? Does she feel threatened?" Dr Berrow asked.

"When someone as big as Dusty rams anyone it is going to hurt as she is a big, powerful animal.

"People do need to be aware that she is a wild animal and unpredictable and to respect that. When you do see the warning signs, leave the water straight away" Dr Berrow said.


Speaking of his own ordeal, Mr Finlay said: "Dusty took one long look at me and decided she didn't want anything to do with me so she stared making warning signs which I should have known.

"She was flapping the water with her tail and then decided she was going to have a go.

"She swam straight at me very hard. It was a bit like being tackled by the Munster front row at full tilt. She hit me a right wallop and knocked me off my feet and then kind of backed away," he said.

"It was my own stupidity I'm afraid. I should have read the signs."