Eanna Sheehan from Dungarvan sent us the following report of a first swim with Dusty:
I was snorkelling with Dusty on Saturday last, July 12th, around 6PM. Here's an account of what happened, for your records.
We arrived in a RIB, travelling from the Black Head direction.
About 200 meters out from shore, and about half a mile from
Dusty's usual haunt (roughly in front of the Admiral's Rest) she
came to meet us. She seemed quite excited, and did a few leaps out
of the water. We kept going till we were at her home ground (about
100 meters off shore) and she stayed with us all the way, matching
our speed (about 15 knots).
She stayed with us when we stopped, circling the boat, and making
close passes to the bow. I started reversing the boat slowly, and
she immediately showed great interest. She swam directly under the
side of the boat, almost touching it, with her snout only about
two feet away from the propellers. I kept this going for about two
minutes, gently zig-zagging the boat. All the while she maintained
her position relative to the boat and engines.
Soon after that I anchored, still about 100 meters off shore (it was
choppy, so I didn't want to get much closer to the rocks). I
jumped in for a snorkel (my first with Dusty). I was in a dry
suit, mask, fins and weight-belt. There were no other swimmers or
At first she circled me at a distance of about 5 meters. I held
out my (ungloved) hands in plain view, but made no attempt to swim
after her. After a minute or two, she came a bit closer and swam
past me, allowing me to touch her side as she passed by. This
happened a few more times over the next few minutes.
Suddenly she approached my tummy with her snout. She wasn't
travelling particularly fast, and slowed down to a crawl as she
came within a couple of inches of me. Then she swam off without
stopping or touching me. Over the next few minutes this manoeuvre
was repeated a couple of times. The only explanation I can put to
this is that she may have been attracted to my weight-belt buckle,
which is shiny stainless steel.
Other notable things that happened while I was in the water with
her include a few 'torpedo' passes. In other words she would
appear out of nowhere, swimming extremely quickly, pass within 3
or 4 feet of me, and disappear again, all without slowing down or
I also noticed her defecating beside me at one point. She released
a cloud of sandy coloured, lumpy, dusty material (no pun
(ed. We take this as a good sign when Dusty defecates near to us! We reckon it means she is excited and pleased to see us!)
A couple of times she stopped about 3 or 4 feet below my fins, and
hung there for a moment, as if inviting me to dive down. Given the
choppy conditions, and lack of a buddy snorkeller, I declined that
I was in the water with her for about half an hour, and during
this period her typical pattern was to spend a minute or two with
me, disappear for a minute or two, return again, and so on. She
let me gently touch her sides and tail about 10 times in all. She
also showed a lot of interest in the hull of the boat, when I was
in the water.
After I got into the boat, she nudged my fin as it dangled in the water. As I was taking up the anchor, she paid a lot of attention
to it, and came quite close with her snout. As we were leaving the
area, heading towards Black Head, she swam along side. We were
doing about 25 knots, and she was able to keep up. She did one
leap out of the water close to our bow, in about the same place
where we first encountered her, and that was the last we saw of