Managing Dusty, or Sandy as she is now known, on Inis Oírr

13th Jul 2014

The bottlenose dolphin known as Dusty that has frequented the beaches of North Clare since 2000, is now on Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands. Dusty, or Sandy, is an amazing dolphin, showing no fear of humans and actively seeking out swimmers to interact. While many people claim to have had fantastic encounters with Dusty, other are reporting aggressive encounters and are being hit by the dolphins tail or less occasionally rammed.

There is great concern on the island that Sandy might cause serious injury. 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 injury swimmers.

 The IWDG recently attended a meeting on the island with representatives of Galway County Council and Comhar Caomhán Teo, Inis Oírr. It was decided that doing nothing was not an option and people visiting Inis Oírr need to be warned of the potential dangers of swimming with Sandy.

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.

IWDG along with Galway County Council and Comhar Caomhán Teo, Inis Oírr ar etrying to make the Sandy experience positive and encourage everyone visiting or living on the island to not swim with sandy but 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.

Vanessa Fagan-Vanhorn has provided a  very useful video

We will update this page as the response from the local authority and the island community to Sandy’s presence develops

Dr Simon Berrow.

IWDG Executive Officer.

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