Meet the Shannon Dolphins

Danú and her family

Danú is named after the mother goddess of nature and fertility in Celtic mythology. She is one of the older females still having calves in the inner estuary group (”the Innies”), which is a well-known subgroup of the Shannon dolphins inhabiting the inner Shannon Estuary. She has at least three known calves: Mist, born before 2005; Patch, born in 2014; and #918, born in 2022.

In Celtic mythology, Mist is thought to be the loving embrace of Danú herself, and as such, we named Danú’s first known daughter Mist.

Danú is very well marked, making her easily identifiable. She has several small to medium-sized notches along her dorsal fin’s trailing edge.

Danú became a grandmother in 2019 when Mist had her first calf #890; unfortunately, this calf did not survive to two years of age. Luckily, she became a grandmother again in 2023 with the birth of Mist’s second calf, #928. Mist is a 2nd generation female, which means we know who her mother is, making her calves the 3rd generation of this Innie family.

When Danú’s second known calf, Patch, was two years old, it became really apparent that he had a curvature of the spine, a condition known as scoliosis. This abnormality would have impaired his ability to swim quickly. We do not know what caused Patch’s scoliosis. It would have been congenital, a condition he would have been born with, or it might be a result of an injury to the vertebrae that he sustained.

At the end of the 2018 field season, Patch was seen with a group that was traveling fast towards a tanker, intending to bow ride as it travelled down the estuary. Even though he tried, he was unable to keep up with the rest of the group. This was the last sighting we had of Patch.

Danú had her youngest calf #918 in 2022 and thankfully this little one seems to be doing well. Mist and Danú’s calves are ones we watch closely as they have not had successful outcomes with calves when compared to other females in the inner estuary.

Danú is often seen in the inner estuary with her calves and other innies, such as Sarafina, Storm, and Prometheus.

Danú Family Tree

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