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Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Tuesday 25th June

Dusty frolicking with Maedbh Graham reports from Derreen…

Swim time: 2hr 30m. Dolphin contact time: 2hr 30m!

Maedbh and I arrived at Derreen at 11am after coffee and cake at the Doolin Crafts Gallery – recommended! Ute was already in the water with Dusty and we soon joined them. A passing tourist from Michigan (where they are used to cold weather) also hopped in in his shorts and was delighted that the dolphin immediately came into the shallows and let him stroke her. But he couldn’t last long without a wetsuit.
Our swim was a nice mixture of activity and tranquillity as Dusty swam between Ute, Maedbh and myself. If I dived down to the bottom she would always follow and tended to explode out of the water as we came up for air, often flopping the top part of her body down next to me. She did lots of fly-bys with a quick stroke each time and also lots of circling, which is easier on the swimmer. With me she seemed to want more vigorous and boisterous activity but when I was soon tired by this she also lay still to be stroked as she did with Maedbh. I particularly liked it when she remained vertical in the water and allowed me to hug her. I didn’t bother with the seaweed game this time. At one point Ute gave her one of her fins and we watched Dusty carry it off, balancing it carefully on her forehead. Ute told us the dolphin often does this and always brings the fin back to her, even if it is 15 minutes later. Ute had already been in since 10am so she soon left the field to the two of us. I got out when I was exhausted after an hour or so and passed on my weight belt to Maedbh. While we were half-standing in the shallows transferring the belt and adjusting gear, we noticed that she stayed motionless next to us apparently unaffected by the waves which were knocking us off balance! Maedbh stayed in for a long, mellow swim on her own.
Dusty still frolicking with Maedbh Maedbh writes: “For while I was holding a small piece of seaweed which was not of any great interest to her despite my waving it around. The highlight of my swim was when she came up to me bringing a huge lump of kelp which was obviously more to her taste. I took this off her and as I held it in front of me she hid behind it, poking her nose through and playing peek-a-boo. She liked me rubbing the seaweed on her nose, especially with the knobbly holdfast end rather than the fronds. When I got tired and let go of the kelp she kept bringing it back to me for more attention. Another time I was treading water and she swam underneath me to get her back scratched by my fins. When I was quiet with her she just lay still but when I started splashing around, she responded in similar manner. I was so carried way with the whole experience that I lost track of time and forgot I was getting cold until I had dragged myself out of the water, then I realised I was shivering. But it was well worth it!”

We rewarded ourselves with a goat’s cheese salad back at the Doolin Crafts Gallery while Dusty went off for a sushi snack.
Date Posted: 25/06/2002
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