A protected area for dolphins is being sought for the Tralee and Brandon Bays.
This follows overwhelming evidence that they are an integral part of Shannon Estuary dolphin habitat. In 2000 the Shannon Estuary marine protected area was established and the habitat covered stretches from Limerick City to Loop Head. An extension to include Tralee and Brandon will mean that the protection afforded these unique dolphins is fit for purpose given what we now know about their movements.
Ireland is a haven for dolphins. We have several different species but none are more numerous than the bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon estuary. Around 120 bottlenose dolphins are known to live here and it’s one of the most important sites for the popular mammals in Europe. Importantly, these creatures are specific to this region and genetically different to any other bottlenose dolphins in the country.
In 2000 the Shannon Estuary was declared a marine protected area extending from Limerick City to Loop Head. And now the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) has proposed that this area include Tralee and Brandon Bays. Research they have undertaken on their research vessel Celtic Mist concludes that the bottlenose dolphins in this area are a part of the Shannon population.
Since 1993 they IWDG have been conducting surveys on this unique Shannon population. They have identified and built up a catalogue of photographs to identify over 200 individual dolphins. This catalogue was used to compare dolphins in the Tralee and Brandon Bay area and they found that nearly 96% of the dolphins they photographed matched and were Shannon dolphins.
“We knew dolphins had been regularly observed in Brandon Bay but did not know which population they belonged to and had no idea they were as abundant and frequent as this study has shown” said Dr Simon Berrow.
The hope now is that the area of marine protection for these Shannon dolphins can be extended to include the areas. The IWDG will continue their research in hopes to strengthen their case.
If you want to support this plan sign the petition.