Bob is one of our favourite dolphins! He was first documented in the Shannon estuary in July 2002. He is an adult male, and he is our most frequently sighted dolphin, hence the common name “Bob”. He is usually spotted alongside the other “Innies,” the subgroup of Shannon dolphins that are regularly seen in the inner Shannon estuary.
We also call him “the bodyguard” as he is often seen with mother-calf pairs or with older calves and juveniles while mama is nearby.
Bob’s dorsal fin is easily recognizable. He has very characteristic notches and marks. He has three small to medium sized notches along his dorsal fin’s trailing edge. In 2023, he had a very distinctive X-shaped mark on his fin’s right side; however, marks can be temporary and fade with time, so he might not have them the next time we see him.
He has developed a few skin lesions in the past years, characterized by white circles; these lesions are identified as a type of viral pox lesion common among nearly all the Shannon dolphins. Fortunately, this ailment is not believed to cause significant illness, so there is no cause for concern.
Bob is most frequently observed between Tarbert and Carrigaholt, with a notable presence, particularly in the area stretching from Money Point Power Station to the Tarbert Ferry terminal. He is often spotted by passengers on the ferry crossing from Killimer to Tarbert, so if you are taking the ferry soon keep an eye out for Bob!
In the photo, you can see Bob swimming underneath the jetty at Money Point Power Station. The rope seen passing down in front of him is attached to an acoustic monitoring device under the water, allowing researchers to record the sounds produced by the dolphins as they communicate and hunt (echolocation).
Like all bottlenose dolphins, Bob is a very social animal. His closest associations would be with other animals that spend most of their time in the inner estuary, including fellow adult males such as Talon, Saber and Giado, and adult females such as Sarafina, Sandy Salmon and their family members.
Bob and Talon surfacing together
Bob and Saber swimming together in the inner estuary
Bob and Muddy, Sandy’s oldest calf, surfacing together