ONE OF THE three dolphins that swam into Cork’s River Lee has died.
The dolphin is believed to have been found in fishing nets in the city centre river but it is not yet known if it died after getting caught in the nets, or if it died and drifted into the nets.
Pádraig Whooley, a sightings coordinator with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group told TheJournal.ie that the death was sadly not surprising.
These things are always going to happen once these animals get into these unusual and strange situations. There is always a risk they are not going to get out of the situation.
Once dolphins swim into the river system the situation never ends terribly well. It is quite predictable. The two remaining animals, we just hope they get out. The longer they stay in that water the less likely they are to get out.
He said that the cause of death would become apparent following a post-mortem on the animal, who was one of three dolphins that appeared in the river in Cork’s city centre a number of days ago.
It is highly unusual for common dolphins like this to swim out of their natural habitat in salt water 2- 3km from the coast into a freshwater river in a city.
He cautioned against people trying to move the dolphins on, saying:
I am a great believer in letting mother nature run its course. You can keep an eye on the situation from the shore but you run the risk if you start interfering, putting boats out or nets out, of stressing the animal. In the video clips it seemed at least one of the animals was in horrible condition and struggling to maintain its buoyancy.
Whooley added that this is not the only unusual dolphin sighting in Cork as there are currently 24 common dolphins in Crookhaven in West Cork.
It is reasonable to assume that somehow they have been compromised. There were people saying the dolphins were in great shape but when animals are traumatised, physically they look in great shape but if they have suffered perhaps an acoustic trauma, outwardly they look fine but inwardly their capacity to echo-locate has been totally switched off. It doesn’t matter how well they look outwardly, it’s the damage that has been done inside to their echo location. They use sound for everything: hunting, navigating and communicating.
Whooley cautioned that people should not approach the dolphins.
These aren’t toys; they are not to be swam with. The more stressed they get from boats or people in the water, the higher the risk someone will trigger a mass stranding.
Something has happened to make the dolphins leave their natural habitat, said Whooley, but it is not known what this could be as of yet.
It is believed that staff from UCC’s zoology department are involved in the removal of the dolphin’s body from the river and that a post-mortem will take place.
Video below via @cybernoelie (Noel Dolan)