Forget about Fungi in Dingle - Donegal dolphins lead way
UP to 50 dolphins have been putting on memorable displays for tourists flocking to Ireland's most northerly point.
Killer whales and basking sharks popping in and out of the water off Malin Head in Donegal are helping to draw visitors from all over the country and from abroad.
But it's the astonishing numbers of dolphins off the Inishowen peninsula which has left local people stunned.
"At the weekend we had a dozen of them in six feet of water off the beach here," said Ali Farren, who runs the Ardmalin Caravan park at Malin Head.
"I don't know what it is about this year but there are just so many of them.
"We started to give them names but we had to give up because there are just so many of them.
"We know tens of thousands of people head to Dingle every year searching for just one dolphin; we're absolutely spoiled for choice."
John Henry McLaughlin has found his Inishowen Boating Company vessels - normally used for bookings for sea anglers - inundated with requests to go dolphin-spotting instead.
"They've become the main attraction," said Mr McLaughlin.
"We leave from the pier at Culdaff and head up along the coast and it is pretty spectacular. The odd time you might not see them, but you almost always do and they'll often come alongside the boat and weave in and out of the water."
Marine expert Emmet Johnston, the Wildlife Service's Park Ranger for Inishowen, says the large number of dolphins is a result of the unique marine environment.
"We have the cold waters of the Irish Sea and North Channel meeting the warmer waters of the Atlantic and so there's an abundance of fish and plankton," he said.
"The are up to 50 dolphins now off north Inishowen and they are staying in the area. That's also a sign they are very happy here.
"We've seen two killer whales this year already and we only expect to see one every other year."
The park ranger says human appreciation for the dolphins was paying its own rewards.
"Local people have embraced them and once you have that, that's great for both the dolphins and for the area because it does attract visitors," he said.