Shannon Dolphin Project Interns Blog I

 Megan Clarkson- Shannon Dolphin Project Intern 2022

First time sailing on Celtic Mist

Hi all, my name is Megz and I have travelled from South Africa to have the great pleasure of being one of the new interns this season at the Shannon Dolphin Project.

During my third week here, I got the amazing opportunity to sail from Rossaveel to Kilrush on IWDG’s Celtic Mist. In the early hours on the 15th of June 2022, with a crew of 8, the Celtic Mist embarked on her voyage to Kilrush, on what would be my first sailing experience. Leaving the harbour and after raising her sails, we were accompanied by four really cute and energetic common dolphins weaving in and out, bowriding and breaching alongside her bow.

The weather was slightly overcast with a chilly wind and slight swell. A bit of a bumpy ride but we made good time catching the winds to Pointa and then headed down the coast past Doolin. A few of the interns took turns leaving to sail, turn and jive along the way.

Around Miltown Malbay where the rough weather had made some a bit unsteady and we were truly feeling the turbulence of the ocean, we were jolted to life with the sighting of three Minke whales feeding on a bait ball surrounded by a pod of about 15 Common dolphins and an assortment of seabirds, including diving Gannets, Manx Shearwaters and Gulls. It was an amazing sight and experience and for myself my first encounter with Minke whales. Each blow turning our attention from right to left. Lunge feeding at the surface, you could see their throat groves and blows. Common dolphins coming back and forth between the bow, stern and back to the feeding frenzy. At one point the Minke whales had spread all around us and then just as quickly, they one by one disappeared with only a few commons and seabirds around.

Nearing Kilkee the swell increased but the sun came out and it was nice, warm and sunny for our hours to Loop head. Rounding Loop Head and turning to Kilrush, for a few minutes, we were accompanied by a few bottlenose dolphins and then a few hours later as the tide was turning near Beal about 6 bottlenose dolphins appeared at our side and were bowriding and crossing from left to right at our sides for about 5 minutes before heading west of Kilrush and up the estuary.

Barring the slight sea sickness feeling, my first experience on celtic mist was amazing. Learning so much about sailing and seeing so many amazing species just being and living was truly inspiring.

I am really looking forward to the possibility of viewing more amazing sights on future trips.