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"Don't swim with this dolphin" islanders warned, as 'Dusty' changes location

A number of swimmers were injured by the mammal off Co Clare last summer…

Image: George Karbus via George Karbas Photography

FRESH WARNINGS ARE being issued by experts, following the arrival of the bottlenose dolphin ‘Dusty’ in the Aran Islands.

You may remember similar warnings being issued last summer after a number of swimmers were injured while interacting with the mammal off Co Clare.

As many as five people were injured by ‘Dusty’ (or ‘Sandy’ as the dolphin’s sometimes called). Warning signs were placed around Doolin harbour, a favourite spot for the animal.

Well — after 14 years or so in the North Clare area, the dolphin’s now frequenting Inis Oírr.

And while the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s executive officer Dr Simon Berrow stresses that Dusty is “an amazing dolphin”, meetings have been held locally to determine how to properly warn swimmers.

“There is great concern on the island that Sandy might cause serious injury,” Berrow writes in a post on the IWDG website.

“The sandy beach at Inis Oírr is really the only place people swim and during the summer up to 120 students attend the summer school and swim at the beach.

In July, swimming lessons for children are also held on the beach and again real concerns are being expressed that Sandy might [injure] swimmers.

IWDG experts met with locals and Galway County County officials, and it was decided “doing nothing was not an option,” according to Berrow — who also lectures in marine biology in Galway-Mayo MIT.

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“IWDG agreed to prepare posters and leaflets for distribution on the island advising about these concerns.

“It was agreed that the option of excluding a part of the beach so swimmers can swim without being exposed to Sandy needs to be explored. There are lifeguards on the beach only at weekends so the beach is generally unsupervised.

A proposal for a “Dolphin Warden” has been received by Galway County Council under Agenda 21 funding but it is unlikely this can be processed in time for the remaining summer season.

There’ll be a local effort to stress the positives of the Dusty/Sandy experience, and locals and visitors will be encouraged to admire her “from the pier, shore or boats”.

The island welcomes all visitors, including Sandy, but does not want any harm to come to anybody.

Read: Swimmers in Clare are being warned “don’t swim with this dolphin!”

Read: A new ‘solitary’ dolphin’s moved to Irish waters… swimmers are being urged to keep their distance

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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