Experts think warm weather and plentiful fish enticed 50 dolphins to Strangford Lough

Around 50 dolphins have been spotted in Strangford Lough, just off the coast of Killyleagh.

Thought to be the bottlenose variety, the mammal has been spotted in this area in the past: Squishy and Squashy regularly follow the ferry between Strangford and Portaferry, the volume that a local fisherman and his son witnessed was unusual.

It is thought the recent good weather, has enticed the dolphins into the lough.

“Dolphins love the warmer weather, we find them up towards this region when it’s a wee bit warmer,” Blair Bailie, conservation and education officer at Exploris Aquarium said.

“That’s almost certainly what’s brought them here and also the abundance of fish we have in the lough as there’s not much fishing going on down here.”

Such are the conditions, some dolphins have ventured further north and were spotted near Mahee Island on Wednesday morning.

“It’s a little bit risky for them to go that far,” explained Blair.

“That’s because of the tide there and the water comes out quite fast so they can get stranded, but they’re just exploring the region as they’re not from around here.”

Experts say the increased sightings of dolphins around the country is a good thing.

“20 years ago very few people reported any dolphin species in Northern Ireland,” said Irish Whale and Dolphin Group Sightings Officer Pádraig Whooley.

“And in the last 10, 15 years we’ve seen bottlenose dolphins on these shores and that’s a big change.

“It’ll be interesting now to see if bottlenose dolphins are joined by common dolphins.”

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