A sight for shore eyes

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A GROUP of Annalong fishermen recently filmed a spectacular sight after a large pod of dolphins swam next to their boat.
The footage, which was captured earlier this month, shows the common bottlenose dolphins performing various stunts in the water and weaving in and out from under the boat.
Spotted in waters just off Annalong harbour there were around 40 in the pod and they followed the fishing boat for quite some time.
Gary Burrows, North Coast Marine Ranger for DAERA Marine and Fisheries Division, said the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the most common dolphin encountered in our inshore waters.
“Bottlenose dolphins can be seen anytime of the year, but most sightings are during May to October when fine weather brings people to the coast and onto the sea," he said.
“They are very much part of our native biodiversity and well suited to feeding and breeding in our waters."
He said these dolphins are typically seen in pods of 15-30 animals although on occasions several pods will come together to travel or feed, and groups of up to 150 have been observed in Northern Ireland waters.
Mr Burrows said bottlenose dolphins are protected from disturbance under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995.
Due to this, DAERA Marine & Fisheries advises the public to enjoy any encounters they are fortunate to have but to give the animals 'breathing space' and adhere to the best practice WiSe (Wildlife Safe) guidelines when handling boats around cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises).
Mr Burrows advised: "Maintain a steady speed, slowing down to six knots or less. Do not approach closer than 100m - allow them to approach you
“Do not remain in contact with the animals longer than 15 minutes and do not chase cetaceans, drive directly toward them or encircle them and do not accelerate, slow down or change direction suddenly."
Mr Burrows also advised boat owners to always allow cetaceans an escape route and never drive through or between groups of cetaceans.
He continued: "Ensure that no more than two vessels are within a kilometre of the group; only one vessel in proximity.
“Avoid a close approach to cetaceans with young animals and establish where all the animals are before leaving the area before departing at slow speed."


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