20 years studying the Shannon Dolphins: UPDATED

2nd Jun 2013

2 June 2013

As part of the celebrations of 20 years of study of the Shannon dolphins, we will provide updates on stories, interviews and events.

Last weekend (25 May 2013) the Shannon dolphin known as No 1 - the first dolphin photographed 20 years ago - was recorded in Brandon Bay, Co Kerry as part of an IWDG survey of the area. See http://www.shannondolphins.ie/article.asp?id=82 for full article.

A long and in depth discussion on the Shannon dolphins and IWDG research on bottlenose dolphins around the Irish coast including offshore was broadcast on the RTE Radio 1 Mooney show.  The 30 chat with Ken Whelan, Terry Flanagan, Eanna ni Lamhna and of course Derek Mooney covered the results of the long term Shannon dolphin study, genetic discreteness and how to record and monitor the offshore bottlenose dolphin population. To listen to the full interview go to: http://corkcoast.com/shannondolphin/mooney2013.05.31/simon.mp3


2 May 2013

20 years ago today, the first research trip into the Shannon Estuary to try and find bottlenose dolphins was carried out. The waters west from Carrigaholt in west Clare were surveyed  but we returned five hours later without seeing a single dolphin !!

The following day (3 May, 1993) we tried again and this time we located three groups with a total of around 16 dolphins, photographed 10 and identified six from permanent, unique markings on their dorsal fins (a technique called photo-id).  These dolphins were given a catalogue numbers CN1 to CN6, the first dolphins in the Shannon Dolphin Photo-ID catalogue. Thus the Shannon Dolphin Project was born.  20 years later six of the dolphins recorded in 1993 (25%) were seen last year in the Shannon Estuary and nine (36%) seen during the last three years; these figures are both minimum estimates of the dolphins still present 20 years later.  The Shannon Dolphin Photo-ID catalogue now contains around 45,000 images of around 230 individual dolphins. 

The Shannon Dolphin Project was an initiative of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) but in 2000 a new registered charity, the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation (SDWF) was formed. The SDWF was a group of interested stakeholders from state agencies and local development groups and tourism providers, including all dolphin-watching operators.

A full article on the development and success of the Shannon Dolphin Project can be found on www.shannondolphins.ie

Thanks to all those who have supported the work over the years.

If you want to hear and see spectrographs of the recent Shannon dolphin vocalisations from Bunratty Castle go to: http://corkcoast.com/shannondolphin/Bunratty/BR3VP/BR3VP.html


Dr Simon Berrow

Project Manager, Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation

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