Welcome return of Galway’s bottlenose dolphin to Nimmo’s Pier

IWDG have just validated two sighting by Marcus Hogan and the Galway Hooker Sailing Club of a solitary bottlenose dolphin off the Nimmo’s Pier area of Galway docks on Sat. 6th and Tues. 16th February.  Given the footage, description, location and circumstances, we are confident these record are our first sightings of 2021 of the adult dolphin known locally as “Nimmo”.

This latest sighting brings to seven, the number of consecutive years that IWDG has recorded this individual in the inner Galway Bay area, and specifically around Nimmo’s pier. He/she first came to our attention in April 2015, and has been observed each year since, over 130 days between 28th January to 13th October.  The dates of 1st sighting reports are as follows:

  • 6th   Apr. 2015

    “Nimmo” with Mutton Island in background 30th Jan 2019

  • 21st Feb. 2016
  • 12th Feb. 2017
  • 18th Feb. 2018,
  • 28th Jan. 2019
  • 1st   Feb 2020
  • 6th Feb 2021

It’s also interesting to take a look at the number and span of sightings year on year (below) which suggests Nimmo may be arriving earlier most years, but also staying longer.  While this could be an artifact of increased awareness of its presence and more people reporting their observations to IWDG, the data leans more heavily towards this area being a core feeding habitat for this individual.  The peak month for sightings is April.

  • 2015: 6th Apr. – 2nd Jun.    =  13 sightings over 2 months
  • 2016: 21st Feb. – 3rd Jun.   =  18 sightings over 4 months
  • 2017: 12th Feb.- 30th Jul.   =  31 sightings over 5 months
  • 2018: 18th Feb. – 13th Oct.=  19 sightings over 8 months
  • 2019: 28th Jan. – 19th May =   19 sightings over 4 months
  • 2020: 1st Feb. – 23rd July  =    28 sightings over 5 months

This is a wonderful opportunity for people in Galway to observe a wild dolphin close to a city centre and often within clear view of the shoreline, where powerful optics may not even be needed to see him/her.  As always, it will be very interesting to see how Nimmo gets on this year and how long he/she will remain in the area.  We’d ask Citizen Scientists to report any sightings of this individual over the coming months on www.iwdg.ie for validation, and not to assume that because we may know he’s in the general area, that we are no longer interested in daily sightings…WE ARE!  It is your daily reports that help us build the bigger picture.

Image above: Nimmo with Mutton Island in background by Rory Mc Avinney, National Aquarium and front image by Andrew Morgans.

By Pádraig Whooley, IWDG Sightings Officer