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Shannon Dolphin ID catalogue updated

The Shannon dolphin photo-identification catalogue has been updated with new and recent images of 200 individual dolphins.

Research on the bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon estuary began in May 1993. During this initial study images were taken to try and recognise individual dolphins to determine whether they were resident and how they use the estuary.

Today, over 14 years later we are still photographing the dolphins for the same reasons as well as determing the impact of dolphin tour boats, breeding rates and movements.

The Shannon dolphin ID catalogue held by the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation now contains images of 200 individual dolphins. Some of these dolphins will have died since 1993 but a large propprtion oof these dolphins are still recorded each year showing just how long a study like this needs to be continued in order to really understand their ecology.

Some of the original images are not of high quality. At the start of the study we used film provided by Spectra in Listowel, Co Kerry. When this sponsorship ended we turned to slide film which was expensive but with the development of digital photography our work has been transformed.

In 2005 the SDWF obtained a capital grant from the Heritage Council to purchase a digital camera (Canon D20) and in 2006 a high quality lenses (Canon 200mm, f2.8) which means we can now "capture" using photo-identification a greater proportion of dolphins as we can recognise more subtle markings and nicks. This has led to a marked increase in the number of individual dolphins photographed.

One big question we now hope to be able to start addressing is where do the Shannon dolphins go when they are outside the Shannon estuary. We hope that by teaming up with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and other groups obtaining images of bottlenose dolphins we may match the Shannon dolphins to other sites.

If any person obtains a good imase of a bottlenose dolphin suitable for photo-identification please send to info@shannondolphins.ieSend an e-mail to


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The SDWF is supported by the following agencies... Shannon Development Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Marine Institute Clare County Council Kilrush Urban District Counil
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