Bottlenose dolphins still off Antrim coast..Update

20th Jun 2007 Report update III: 19th June 2007

IWDG have just received a further update on this amazing dolphin activity off the East Antrim Coast, which centers around a very large aggregation of Bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus .

On Tues. 19/06/07 at 11:30 AM Colin Cardy & Aishling Carlin saw a very large group of 70-100 dolphins at Carnlough. The group split up heading out into the North Channel. A smaller group of c30 dolphins then moved south towards Glenarm and continued towards Larne. On occasion these approached within 50m of shore, giving observers wonderful close up views of this gregarious species. They were followed along the coast road.

Having spoken to Colin 21/06/07, IWDG are confident that these are indeed bottlenose dolphins, and are almost certainly part of the same group which has been reported along the Antrim coast since Sun. 17/06/07. Their large size (9-12ft), grey colour, stocky build, and the fact that only this coastal species would be confident enough to enter shallow inshore waters, all suggest that these are indeed bottlenose dolphins.

Bottlenose dolphins Red Bay 17/06/07© Pauline Majury

This recent activity is providing members of the public and whale watchers alike with a wonderful opportunity to observe one of Ireland's most engaging cetacean species. Interestingly, we are approaching the one year anniversary of the incident involving the Sei whale that swam into Larne Lough. Thanks to all those who have contined to keep IWDG updated on this episode off the Antrim coast.

Pádraig Whooley

IWDg Sightings Co-ordinator

Report update II: 18th June 2007

Reliable sources inform us that a larger group of Bottlenose dolphins have been observed today 18/06/07 off Sheep Island, nr. Larry Bane Head, North Antrim. This report is consistent with other reports yesterday from the area.

The north coast does seem to be the place to be whale watching at present. We'll keep this section updated with new reports of their sightings as and when they arise

Report I: 17th June 2007

We were travelling by road back home from Larne on Sun 17th June along the impressive Antrim Coast road towards Ballycastle. There was absolutely no way we were going home on the unremarkable inland route when views across a be-calmed Irish Sea towards the Scottish Ayrshire coast was clearly remarkable. So coast road it was with my right eye watching sea and left eye fixed on road and oncoming Sunday evening traffic. Over the years veteran coastal dwellers and fans of everything marine have learned this bi-optical trick, but try convincing nervous sceptical passengers of this skill…!

Bottlenose dolphins Red Bay 17/06/07© Pauline Majury

Heading into Red bay I suddenly began having to dodge several cars unwisely parked on the left hand side of the (not very wide) road with the contents all lining the sea wall staring out to sea.

The visibility was incredible in its clarity. A still-strong June sun was illuminating the entire west-facing Scottish coast and I swore I could pick out nesting gannets on the giant inverted cone of Ailsa Craig. There was nothing else for it.

Groups of rolling black dorsal fins and slapping tails filled the southeast corner of the bay about 1-2 km off. It was bottlenose city. Small groups of 5-10 at a time of varying sizes, were in sequence as they surfaced in various directions, totally ignoring the small craft which ambled alongside in an orderly manner it has to be said.

The dolphins were clearly focused on feeding and dive bombing terns were adding to the reality of the hidden bounty which had brought them all together. It was idyllic and perfect viewing conditions in a jaw-dropping seascape. Light scented June-a