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Dublin: 16°C Monday 15 August 2022

How did you spend Easter morning? This man towed a stranded dolphin back to the depths off Achill

While most of the country was enjoying a lie-in, the Achill Coast Guard team led a local rescue mission for a stranded dolphin…

[Achill Coast Guard]


THE ACHILL IRISH Coast Guard team organised the successful re-floating of a young dolphin on Easter Sunday morning — while most of the country was still asleep.

The volunteers were alerted to the situation at around 9.30am, when officer-in-charge Colin Honeyman received a call saying two dolphins had become stranded on Keem beach, at the western end of the County Mayo island.

They had been discovered by two members of the public, who raised the alarm and began trying to refloat the stranded mammals.

“Without the right water equipment like a wetsuit they were finding it difficult to get the dolphins out to sea,” Honeyman said.

When the Coast Guard team arrived at the scene they discovered one of the dolphins had died, but the other was still very much alive.

“These dolphins were small — about six foot in length and were only young. The tide was going out quickly and something had to be done soon.”

The team made contact with a nearby fisherman, and came up with a plan to escort the surviving animal back out to deeper water, in order to minimise the risk of a re-stranding.

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Honeyman, decked out in a wetsuit, swam from the beach with the dolphin under his arm until he could reach a tow-line thrown from the small fishing vessel — around 30 metres off shore.

“He was splashing around a fair bit, but he wasn’t that strong. As we swam out I was thinking ‘I’m not sure if he’s going to make it’.

But as soon as I got into the deep water he seemed to get a new lease of life and just swam off — he really went for it.

Honeyman’s stressing the tricky business of dolphin-escorting isn’t a normal part of Irish Coast Guard protocol.

“I’d be a keen surfer though, and I had the gear — it was clear something had to be done, so I didn’t necessarily do it in a Coast Guard capacity, so to speak.”

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About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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