Another superpod of 1,000+ Common dolphins

28th Mar 2011 Only last month we received a report from Micheal Cottrell while fishing off the Kinsale Gas Fields area, Co. Cork on Fri. 11th Feb., when he encountered a superpod of c1,000 common dolphins. Now we're delighted to report another similar size aggregation, and it's nice for a change that the activity isn't from the South coast which seems so often to dominate the news when it comes to cetacean spectaculars.

This sighting reported by IWDG Galway member Eugene Mc Keown, of Biospheric Engineering, was made on Thurs. 24th March several miles NW of the Inishkeas, Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo while carrying out acoustic research on the Dulra Nature Tours vessel, operated by Anthony Irwin.

Eugene reports.....

" I was out to do some equipment testing in deep water (>100m), heading NW out of Blacksod. On the way to the site we encountered a very large group of common dolphins that were travelling almost at right angles to our course i.e. N.NE. The group was remarkable for its size (100 or so animals) and the fact that there was no major interaction with the boat. They were on a mission.

We checked species ID and agreed that they were all common dolphins rather than mixed dolphin species. We re-established our course but kept finding more and more dolphins. We noticed large groups on all four sides of the boat and for at least an hour we travelling with groups of dolphins on all four sides of the boat stretching out as far as the eye could see.

I have been lucky enough to see some of the large dolphin pods on the Irish South Coast and the large pod of offshore bottlenose dolphins when on the RV Celtic Explorer, but this was on a different scale. I'm hesitant about reporting large numbers as I don't want to "over-egg the pudding" but this was by a huge margin the largest group of dolphins I have ever seen.

When I look at the difference in time from the first to the last photograph and the distance travelled during the encounter, we travelled almost 9

nautical miles with almost continuous dolphin encounters. We eventually got clear of the group and began our acoustic tests which confirmed them to be common dolphins........."

As Eugene points out, sightings such as these are important, not only because of the sheer numbers, but also because of timing and location which serve to remind us just how little we know about the ecology of this abundant pelagic dolphin.

Thanks to everyone involved in reporting this event to IWDG.

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