Bottlenose dolphin at Nimmo’s Pier, Galway

19th Apr 2015

Onlookers at Nimmo’s Pier in Galway over the past few days have enjoyed the rare opportunity to view a selection of Ireland’s marine mammals at very close quarters without disturbing the animals.

We have observed a bottlenose dolphin at Nimmo's pier Thursday, Friday and Saturday, on occasions coming as close as 15 meters!! The dolphin has been putting on quite a show for onlookers, at times breaching, belly-flopping, tail slapping and charging through the water at speed, possibly in pursuit of dinner!

Our attention was first brought to the animals presence on Wednesday evening when walking in the area, a member of the public informed us that we had just missed the dolphin and said that it had been in the same area each evening for the last 2 weeks. So we returned on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and low and behold, it was there each day from around 7pm on.

Catherine managed to get some photos of both sides of the dorsal fin which will hopefully be used to identify the dolphin by comparison to the IWDG’s photo identification catalogue. From these pictures we have so far been able to confirm that it is indeed the same individual present each day, although the individuals identity has yet to be established.

Each day we have also noticed a harbour seal patrolling the same area, popping up and having a look about, occasionally breaching, or just resting at the surface with its hind flippers kicked out behind him, all within 20 meters of the pier!

On Saturday, we were in for a particular treat. Just as the light began to fade, an otter emerged from the water pulling a large live eel onto a seaweed covered rock and devouring it, under the watchful eye of the harbour seal.

Aside from the mammals, there has also been a lot of bird activity in the area also. Flocks of common terns have been darting around the pier, diving into the water to secure a meal, a great northern diver has been fishing in the area with some success, along with cormorants, shags, huge flocks of black headed gulls, herring gulls, little egrets and an Iceland gull, while ringed plovers, turnstones, oystercatchers, greenshanks and dunlins patrolled the beach near- by. Galway’s usual host of mute swans, mallard ducks and grey herons (sometimes spotted on the footpath of the long walk) were, of course, also in attendance.

So if you are looking for something to do in Galway on one of these mild spring evenings, why not take a stroll down to Nimmo’s Pier and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some of these beautiful creatures as the sun sets over Galway.

John Power and Catherine O'Sullivan

IWDG members, Galway