Last month it was a Black Swan in the Claddagh. This month, Galway has another star of the sea which is proving a major attraction for locals and tourists – a bottlenose dolphin!
The dolphin – which has been nicknamed ‘Nimmo’ and ‘Salty’ by locals – has been making regular appearances in recent weeks around Nimmo’s Pier.
Its antics have been drawing crowds to Galway Bay hoping to catch a glimpse – last weekend he was out in all his glory, and stunning video footage of him ‘breaching’ or jumping out of the water was captured by Harbour Master, Captain Brian Sheridan.
According to Ireland’s foremost authority on dolphins, little is known about it – including its gender – because it does not have any distinctive markings.
However, Dr Simon Berrow, founder of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and Marine Biology lecturer at GMIT, said he believes the same dolphin has been visiting Galway for the past five to ten years.
“It’s not very well marked, so it’s hard to tell, but it’s likely to be the same one that’s been hanging around the Docks for years. We don’t know anything about it because of the lack of markings, we can’t tell if its male of female.
“It is probably here for the seasonally abundant salmon running up into the Corrib. With dry weather there would be a lot of salmon congregating at the mouth of the Corrib, so there’s a plentiful supply of food,” said Dr Berrow.
He warned onlookers not to attempt swimming with the dolphin.
“Why would you want to do that, when you can watch from the shore or from a boat. It would most likely swim away, and you might get a wallop,” he said.
Captain Brian Sheridan said the dolphin is a beautiful sight and another ‘string in the bow’ of Galway’s attractions.
He was sailing his boat in the shipping channel leaving the harbour on Sunday afternoon when the dolphin appeared alongside him, and he filmed it on his mobile phone.
“It was beautiful; blue skies, blue water, the sun shining and then this magnificent dolphin appears alongside the boat. He seemed quite friendly,” said Capt Sheridan.
Dr Berrow said the dolphin’s behaviour in the video was “very deliberate” and it was displaying at the boat.
Two other dolphins make regular appearances off the Galway coast – Dusty (also known as Sandy), a female from Doolin who holidays off Inis Oírr, while Clet is a male from France who visits England before stopping off around Galway.
Clet (pronounced ‘clay’) is well-known for his bad temper and is easily identifiable damaged dorsal fin, and is believed to have been behind an ‘attack’ on five swimmers at Blackrock in April 2015.
One lady was struck by his tail, while a man suffered bruising after receiving a headbutt to the ribs. He was acting aggressively by prodding swimmers and would not let them swim away.
Dr Berrow asked members of the public to report any sightings of dolphins on the iwdg.ie website as it helps the team track movements.