28th May 2002
Following careful photo-matching we are now able to report a unique record of a solitary dolphin’s travels throughout N.W Europe over the last year.
[Click here for photo-matching]
In May 2001, a lone bottlenose dolphin followed a fishing boat from Carrigaholt, Co.Clare, to Baile na nGall harbour in West Kerry and from there to the Blasket Island. Over the following two months he was resident between the Blaskets, Dunquin and Dingle and many people watched and swam with him in the fine weather we enjoyed that year. This extremely interactive dolphin, who we named Dony, disappeared from Kerry at the beginning of July 2001.
In the same month a similar dolphin – small, very scarred and fearless of human beings - turned up in Britanny and later moved down to La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast of France, where he acquired the name of Georges. During the winter he moved to Cherbourg and then to Guernsey in the Channel Islands, where he was known as Randy. He was last spotted there on 8th March 2002 and is said to have been seen in both Cherbourg and St.Malo after that before turning up in Weymouth on 28th March. This latter series of movements would have been remarkable enough in itself but we are now able to show that ‘Georges’/’Randy’ is the same dolphin who originated on the west coast of Ireland. We suspected this as soon as we heard of his behaviour and particularly of his eagerness to interact in an apparently sexual manner, but close-up photos now offer very clear evidence.
There are few previous accounts of solitary or any other bottlenose dolphins relocating like this. In ‘Follow a wild dolphin’, Horace Dobbs tells the story of a dolphin named Donald which moved from the Isle of Man in 1972 to South Wales and then to Cornwall, interacting with human swimmers and divers in each place before vanishing in 1978. But since then, the solitary dolphins which have cropped up around the British Isles and France have either stayed put like Fungie, or disappeared like Freddie. Now for the first time ever we know of a dolphin moving from the west coast of Ireland to France and then to England within the space of 9 months. We have no idea whether this kind of movement could be typical for ‘ordinary’ dolphins, or if not, what might have driven this exceptionally unusual animal to migrate in this way. If ‘Georges’ as he is now known in Dorset is allowed to remain free and follow his own inclinations, it will be fascinating to see where he turns up next. Whererever that is, we feel sure that this playful and inquisitive dolphin will not be hard to spot.
click here to see a map of Dony's travels
Graham Timmins (e-mail me)