July 31, 2021

PICTURED: ‘Unusual stranding’ sees two porpoises wash up on Wicklow shores

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) have described as ‘unusual’ the stranding of two Harbour Porpoises less than a mile away from each other.

The first of the creatures was spotted washed up on the beach opposite the Bray Head Hotel on March 21 by Darragh Cleary who reported it to the IWDG (main picture and below).

When he shared his pictures on social media, Leigh Browne then posted a picture of a second porpoise (below) which she said was located near the train bridge on the Dargle River which flows into Bray Harbour.

When contacted by WicklowNow.ie, a spokesperson for IWDG said that while the Harbour Porpoise is common to waters off the East Coast, it is unusual for them to be in groups and for two to be stranded so close to each other.

Reaching a maximum length of around 1.9 metres, the diminutive harbour porpoise (also known as the common porpoise) is Ireland’s smallest cetacean species and our only species of porpoise.

The harbour porpoise looks very much like a small dolphin at first glance, but has a proportionally more rotund body.

It is dark grey or grey-brown on its upper surface — looking almost black as its back breaks the water’s surface, with lighter grey flanks fading to a white underside.

Harbour porpoises are usually seen singly, in pairs or in small groups of less than 10 individuals and are less “showy” than their dolphin cousins.

The harbour porpoise is protected under the Wildlife Act in Ireland and under EU law they should be designate Special Areas of Conservation and IWDG has proposed Dublin Bay, which would include Bray as a potentially suitable area.



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