THE sea around the Kinsale Gas field is producing spectacular sightings of more than 1,000 dolphins who are congregating to feed on migrating shoals of herring and sprats.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is hoping the weather may lift and the huge group will move inshore to provide the public with a visual wildlife feast, fit for any David Attenborough-type programme.
The congregation was spotted in recent days by Michael Cottrell while he was fishing in the vicinity of the gas fields, around 30 to 35 miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale.
Mr Cottrell, who during the summer runs the well-known Baltimore Sea Safaris, was very impressed by spectacle.
“This was a huge pod, bigger than any I, or any local, has ever seen — there must have been a minimum of 1,000 common dolphins,” Mr Cottrell said.
IWDG sightings coordinator Padraig Whooley verified his report. “You’re talking about dolphins as far as the eye could see.
“Everywhere you looked there were dorsal fins and splashes. You were talking about silly numbers, impossible to count,” Mr Whooley said.
“It was an absolutely phenomenal sight. It just goes to show how rich and bountiful the seas in this area are.”
He believed the common dolphins were probably following shoals of herrings and sprats which could come right into shore.
“If the weather improved and the dolphins followed their prey inshore then people might be able to get a spectacular view from the land,” Mr Whooley said.
The dolphins, he said, find foraging far easier if they co-operate and form very large feeding groups.
“This strategy has also been adopted by several other species such as dusky dolphins in the southern hemisphere.”
The group is urging anybody spotting the congregation to report it to www.iwdg.ie.
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