One of our ecologists found this Short-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis in shallow water on the shoreline in Cloghan, Co Kerry, yesterday. It is clear that this dolphin was in distress, and we reported the incident to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG). Common dolphins are protected under the Wildlife Act (1976-2000) and are also listed under Annex II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive.
Common dolphins are one of the most frequently sighted cetacean in Ireland, particularly off the south-west and west coasts. Globally, population estimates suggest that there are several hundred thousand animals. They are highly gregarious species and can live in pods of several hundreds to even thousands of animals. However, the individual we recorded at Cloghan was on its own, and there was clearly something wrong. This dolphin was sick or distressed and was stranding itself at low tide.
Despite their relatively large numbers, Common Dolphins have declined along with other cetacean species and are subject to many of the same pressures and threats. Common Dolphin are apparently particularly vulnerable to being caught up in commercial fishing gear because they are attracted by the fish inside the nets but do not jump over them to escape. As with other cetaceans, they are vulnerable to pollution and degradation of the marine environment, injury and disturbance from vessels, and decreasing food resources due to overfishing.
Figures compiled by the IWDG illustrate a marked increase in Common Dolphin strandings since 2010, when just five were reported here. There were around 100 sightings of stranded common dolphins in 2013, and following a reduction early last year the numbers now appear to be on the rise in 2015.
For further information please see the links below:-
- Short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis
- Scientists alarmed by rise in dolphin strandings on Irish shores
- Report of the Cetacean Strandings Scheme
- Results of post mortem examinations on five common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) from Mayo
- Conservation Plan for Cetaceans in Irish waters
- Bottlenose dolphins trapped near Bunratty Castle, Co Clare