Bottlenose dolphin survey Tralee and Brandon Bays 2013

This summer the IWDG have been carrying out a survey of Tralee and Brandon Bays in North Kerry to investigate the use of the area by bottlenose dolphins and assess the potential for marine wildlife tourism.

Since May Drs Simon Berrow and Joanne O’Brien have working with the local community in Fenit and North Kerry to survey and¬†record dolphins and other cetaceans to build up a better understanding of how they use the bays. We have also deployed 3 CPODS across the bays to acoustically monitor the area for dolphins.

It has long been known that Tralee and Brandon Bays are the only site where the resident bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon Estuary occur. The bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon are a genetically discrete population with a relatively small population of around 120-140 individuals. The Shannon is protected for bottlenose dolphins but Tralee and Brandon Bays are not.

Since the start of this project which is funded by North and East Kerry Development we have encountered bottlenose dolphins on every trip, photo-id have established them to be Shanon dolphins and have been detected acoustically on nearly 90% of days at some sites.

IWDG have been using Celtic Mist and local boats for surveying the area and on Wednesday 6 August it encountered a large group of bottlenose dolphins in Brandon Bay.  Local film maker James McCarthy took some fantastic footage of the dolphins and Celtic Mist visiting Brandon village. Watch the video here

The boundary of the Lower River Shannon cSAC only extends to a line between Kerry and Loop Heads and these data will be used to support a recommendation that this boundary should be extended to include Tralee and Brandon Bays.

Simon Berrow

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