3 Common dolphins live strand in Tarbert, Co Kerry

8th Jan 2017

Mick O’Connell, Strandings Officer with the IWDG is a lovely man but when you see his name pop up on your phone early on a Sunday morning, you know it’s not good news!

Today, Sunday the 8th January, Mick rang to say Brian Langan was just after reporting a live stranding to the IWDG at Tarbert Co. Kerry of three common dolphins, one was already dead, two were still alive but were in shallow water and one was swimming into even shallower water towards Tarbert village. We got to Tarbert about 20 minutes after receiving Mick’s call, and met with Brian on the roadside from where he and Craig Allen were observing the dolphins.

As we were catching up on the situation, the dolphin that had swam upriver began to beach itself on the opposite shore so we had to rush into the village and try to gain access to the shore at the back of the Mochi restaurant. We managed to turn the dolphin and it swam back out into the middle of the creek and continued to do this for the next 30 minutes or so. We knew we had to come up with a plan as the area is surrounded with mudflats and once the tide started to recede we would not be able to get access to or re-float the dolphin if it stranded again. We decided to call Raymond McGibney from the Tarbert Rowing Club who came and launched a small inflatable. 


We went up to the area where the dolphin remained circling, and tried to steer it out the channel towards deeper water but it was unable to find the channel to exit to deeper water and went back into the mudflats. At this point, Barry jumped out of the inflatable, put his arms around the dolphin and carefully lifted the dolphin into the boat. With the dolphin safely positioned, we proceeded downriver until we reached deep and open water, pouring water on its body along the way to keep the animal cool. We were also careful to ensure no one part of the animal’s body was bearing its full weight. We put the young animal back in the water off Tarbert pier. Once back in the water, the dolphin swam strongly (in the right direction – out towards the Mouth of the Shannon!) and did a number of half breaches on its way – clearly relieved to have received the helping hand to find its way to deep water. We hope this was a successful re-float but given common dolphins are not regularly recorded in the estuary, its hard to predict the outcome. We ask people to remain vigilant around the estuary and report any stranding’s to the IWDG.

A huge thanks to Brian Langan, Craig Allen and Rena Blake for their concern, vigilance and care and to Raymond McGibney for providing the boat and skills to navigate this part of the estuary and getting the dolphin back to deep water.


Joanne O’Brien and Barry O’Donoghue




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