Kevin was one of the first animals added to the Shannon dolphin catalogue when the project began in 1993. As he was an adult when first identified he is now at least 35 years old. Given how well marked his was back then it’s most likely he is well into his 40’s if not older. Below is Kevin in 1994.
He was named by long time SDP researcher Stephanie Levesque and was given this name due to his habit of regularly acting as a ‘bodyguard’ for the females and their calves. You can see Kevin Costner living up to his name close to young Shannon dolphins, in 1997 and in 2016 with 838, who suffered from scoliosis (a curvature of the spine)
Kevin is most frequently seen in the inner Shannon Estuary between Scattery Island / Carrig Island to Tarbert. In April 2021 the IWDG received reports of a single bottlenose dolphin in the Boyne. Images received from the public confirmed that this animal was our own Kevin Costner. Sea Watch Foundation, our counterparts who study the resident bottlenose dolphins of Cardigan Bay, Wales, forwarded images to us of a bottlenose on the Merseyside Coast in England from the 15th of April, a week before the Boyne sighting. We could again confirm that this animal was Kevin, see comparison image below. The Boyne sighting is the furthest known sighting of a Shannon dolphin away from their home range. The Merseyside sighting is the first sighting of a Shannon dolphin outside of Irish waters. What he is doing so far from home in the Irish Sea and the Boyne we do not know but we hope for his safe return home after his travels!
The Shannon dolphins can be regularly seen tossing fish into the air to catch them again so they can swallow head first. These images of prey allow us to gain an insight into the diet of the dolphins. I think of Kevin as my messy eater as we have more pictures of him and his prey than any other Shannon dolphin. He has been seen swimming along with a salmon hanging out of this mouth and balancing the salmon on his beak. We have even seen him perform a synchronised fish toss with the female Storm, with whom he is regularly seen.
Kevin hanging with the boys in the inner estuary in 2010, pictured left to right Sabre, Kevin Costner and Finnegan.