Striped dolphin successfully refloated at Lahinch, Co Clare

9th Mar 2010 A striped dolphin was successfully refloated by the IWDG at Lahinch, Co. Clare this morning but it might restrand over the next few days.

A call to Simon Berrow at 8:30 this morning from Lahinch Seaworld informing the IWDG of a live- stranded dolphin was quickly acted upon. Simon Berrow and colleague Joanne O'Brien of GMIT travelled immediately to the site where they found a young (1.35m) female striped dolphin being pushed around by the incoming tide.

Locals on the beach said it had stranded once already, but it refloated itself and swam parallel to the shore.

The stranded dolphin was inspected and it was not immaciated or showing any obvious lesions. Its breathing rate was very high 20-30 per minute signifying it was very stressed and its eyes were closed. However, it was still very strong and reacted strongly during inspection.

It was decided to attempt a refloat and Joanne donned a dry suit to shepherd it out over the breaking waves. Once in about 1m of water the dolphin was quite active, its eyes opened and breathing rate decreased. It successfully swam out over the waves and swell, swam parallel to the shore and restranded at the south end of the beach. Before we could reach the dolphin, it refloated and this time swam out to sea, even surfing on a wave at one point in true Lahinch tradition!

It was last seen about 1km offshore apparently surfacing at more normal intervals of 10-20 seconds. The IWDG left the scene, hopeful the dolphin will not re-strand. However' the prognosis for a young, pelagic dolphin such as a striped dolphin is not good as its typical habitat is offshore. It could join a group of common dolphins as these species often occur together. Striped dolphins reach independence at around 1.30-1.35m for females and 12-16 months, so it is likely that this individual may have recently been weaned.

We will see if the dolphin is found over the next few days. A rubber band was placed around its tailstock, which will enable us recognise it with ease should it re-strand in the future.

Many thanks to Lahinch Aquarium for promptly informing the IWDG of this stranded dolphin

Simon Berrow and Joanne O'Brien

Ironically, the IWDG are delivering a live- stranding training course on 14 March 2010 in Kilrush, Co. Clare. Contact if interested.

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