The three bottlenose dolphins who have made Bunratty their unlikely home for the past two weeks, may now have moved on the deeper waters. The dolphins, who attracted large crowds to Bunratty, were last spotted around the bridge in Bunratty on Saturday morning, April 13.
It is thought that the recent rain may have caused the fish that the dolphins had been feeding on to move upriver. The creatures had been spending less and less time in the area in recent days, appearing only once on Saturday and three times on Friday.
A planned rescue attempt for the dolphins was aborted last week when the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) carried out a detailed assessment to determine if the dolphins were trapped in the area – as had been thought.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and members of the Killaloe Unit of the Irish Coastguard were present during the day if a rescue attempt was needed.
IWDG Executive Officer Dr Simon Berrow, led the assessment and witnessed the mammals surfacing normally in a narrow strip of water around 100 to 150 metres up river of the bridge.
As water levels rose later in the day the IWDG deployed hydrophones into the water to track the dolphins movement and actions. They discovered that the dolphins were not trapped by the traffic noises on the bridge – as had been previously thought – but were able to pass freely under the structure.
In fact, the dolphins were so comfortable in the local environment that they began foraging for food and hunting fish.
Dolphins have a limited ability to survive in fresh water. After prolonged exposure to fresh water they can develop kidney and skin problems – eventually resulting in kidney failure and death.
However, in this instance, it appears that that the biggest threat faced by the dolphins was man with a number of recorded instances of stones being throw at the creatures as well as two men in scuba gear who attempted to swim with them.
Anyone who spots the dolphins is asked to email details to [email protected]