Unfortunately we haven’t had time to bring you detailed updates of Dony’s activities in France recently but we are still tracking him there, thanks to our collaboration with Sandra Guyomard of the French cetacean network Réseau Cétacés. After a trip down to the south of France in July, Dony returned to Brittany in August and appears to have settled in the Finistère region during the last couple of months. Atlantic storms lash the Finistère coastline in winter just as in the west of Ireland, so only the dedicated dolphin swimmers are out there looking for Dony at this time. Luckily the dolphin now appears to be spending a lot of time near to the home of Frédéric Quemener and his partner Anne in the Bay of Audierne, so after a number of gaps and uncertainties in the sightings record we can now say with confidence that Dony spent Christmas and New Year around L’Anse du Vorlène. Interestingly, this small harbour was also a good place to meet the famous Jean-Louis, a friendly (female) dolphin resident in this part of Brittany during the 1990’s.
Even more remarkably, most recent sightings of Dony have been in the company of Jean-Floc’h, the ‘other’ friendly Brittany dolphin, who has been resident in the Bay of Audierne since the spring of 2003 and who ‘introduced’ Fréd and Anne to swimming with dolphins. The two dolphins are known to have met up as early as March 2003 and were seen together again at the beginning of October and again more consistently from the middle of December. Now Fréd and Anne are getting two dolphins for the price of one, as not only are the pair regularly sighted in each other’s company, they also come in to play with swimmers together! From Sandra Guyomard’s and Paméla Carzon's recent reports following their Christmas holiday swims with the dolphins, it seems that the dolphins generally interact independently with different swimmers and without apparent jealousy, although at times they may both interact together with one swimmer. Sandra writes that during her sessions, Dony tended to lurk at ankle depth underwater, while Jean Floc'h was more visible at the surface. Both dolphins are known to poke people with their beaks at times – including experienced dolphin swimmers such as Fréd – and we are still not smart enough to figure out why, or what provokes this. Nevertheless it is now possible if you go swimming in Brittany to find yourself with a friendly dolphin within arm’s length on either side of you, as Sandra did on St. Stephen’s Day! How amazing is that!