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As well as being exceptionally bold and interested in human contact, Dony is the most widely travelled of any known bottlenose dolphin, with at least 5 countries ticked off on his passport to date. Owing to his highly interactive behaviour and his lack of fear of congested places (or indeed of anything or anyone else), his travels have been more widely reported and observed than those of any other 'friendly' dolphin we know of.
This small, heavily scarred male bottlenose dolphin was first reported in Co.Kerry, Ireland. He arrived at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula at the end of April 2001 and stayed until July 6th. We swam with him many times during that period and named him Dony, short for Donal which is a popular name locally.
In August 2001 the same dolphin re-appeared on the French Atlantic coast north of La Rochelle, where he entertained swimmers on several beaches as well as approaching boats in harbours. He stayed in that area through most of September and then headed north again via southern Brittany.
During the winter of 2001/2002 he was in the Cherbourg-Channel Islands area off the north Normandy coast. By this time he had become known as 'Georges' or 'Randy'.
In March 2002 Dony was first spotted near Weymouth, Dorset, England, where he was known as 'Flipper' for a while. In May 2002, we at irishdolphins.com made the connection between all these different sightings and published photos showing that it was the same dolphin in each case (see our PHOTO MATCHING). Already at this stage Dony’s wanderings had aroused interest in scientific circles as there had previously been little if any evidence that a dolphin could or would travel so far from ‘home’. But this was only the beginning of a never-ending tour which would take him up and down the English south coast before crossing over to Normandy again and thence heading north-east into Belgium and Holland at the end of 2002. In April 2003 he reappeared in Finistère, north-west Brittany, and during the summer of that year visited numerous locations up and down the French Atlantic coast. Over the winter he stayed mainly off Cap Sizun in Brittany, and after another summer roaming the coastline he stayed mainly at Cap Sizun from November 2004 to July 2005, often in the company of another sociable dolphin known as Jean Floc'h! Just when he seemed to be settling down, Dony took off again and in August 2005 swam all the way down to the Spanish border, before returning to Brittany and the Pays de la Loire through till summer 2006. During the following year he seemed to be becoming more and more settled around the Ile de Sein off the Finistère coast, where he was often seen both with Jean Floc'h and the resident pod of dolphins.
However, in September 2007 Dony suddenly reappeared on the English coastline, this time in Sussex, from where he rapidly moved west to Weymouth, scene of much activity 5 years earlier, and on to Devon and Cornwall, before returning to Brittany by the end of the month!
For the full story, click on the link below to ‘Dony's travels’ and read our other Dony articles.