A man who had a spontaneous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with dolphins in Co Cork says the experience was amazing.
Harry Casey swims at Myrtleville every day and is normally joined by other swimmers or, on occasion, a seal. However, on Tuesday he was joined by something completely different.
A pod of dolphins has been spotted in the area in recent weeks and when Harry saw them in the distance, he took a chance that paid off.
“I spotted them before I went in so I swam out towards them but I didn’t think I’d get that close to be honest. I think maybe they were a bit curious and came over to suss me out,” Harry says, adding he was surprised by how close they let him get to them.
“I got within about 10 feet of them which was close enough to be a bit nervous when they popped up near me.”
Harry’s close encounter was captured on camera from the shore by Derek McGreevy and Harry says he is grateful the moment was photographed.
“It was amazing to get so close and it was great that Derek happened to be there taking a few photos.”
Harry is aware the dolphins have been in the area for a while and says other sea life have been spotted around Myrtleville lately.
“They’ve been there for about two weeks feeding and there was a whale spotted close to shore last Sunday. I swim there everyday and we have a resident seal there too who swims near us sometimes.”
Earlier this month, an estimated 50 to 60 dolphins were seen off Myrtleville, Fountainstown and Roche’s Point. They were joined by kayakers who filmed them flipping and jumping as they tucked into warm water anchovies and sprat.
The shoals of tiny fish are also drawing in fin whales off the south-east coast, with almost daily sightings of the second largest creature on the planet, according to Padraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.
The abundance of anchovies – a warm water species with higher value now, used in pizza toppings and pasta dishes – has been described as “astonishing” by Dr Kevin Flannery of Dingles’s Mara Beo aquarium.