This young dolphin has been hanging around Inis Oirr (Inisheer) in the Aran Islands since May 2001. We have previously reported that it is a female dolphin, so will maintain that assumption for now, but in reality even that is not known for certain and we have no photos of her. She is reported to be heavily scarred. Divers were the first to encounter her and during the summer of 2001 a number of locals and visitors swam with her near the beach/pier area. As some people were apparently swimming on an almost daily basis during that summer, it seems that her behaviour is generally friendly. However, several reports also speak of 'aggressive' behaviour on the part of the dolphin, including butting and prodding with her beak and coming between swimmers and the shore as if to prevent them from returning to dry land. Shaking her head up and down (as seen also with 'Dony' and 'Dusty') is also presumed by some to be a threatening gesture. Some people received bruising after initiating close contact with Sandy, and were followed right into shallow water as they tried to get away from her. Sandy has also been seen treating the local seabirds badly!
Sandy seems to be most often seen in the sound between Inis Oirr and Inis Mean where she often comes to bow-ride boats. Due to the remote location and the fact that she is not tied to a particular shore location, few if any people have travelled to the island to swim with her and most contacts have been with divers. We haven't heard any news of Sandy since February 2003 but as far as we know she is still there.
We would love to have more information about the behaviour of this dolphin, so please contact us in confidence if you can help. So little is known about how dolphins communicate and what their behaviour means. Only by pooling our information and recording incidents carefully can we hope to make sense of these unusual interactive situations.