Half Mag / Half Zine

A pod of dolphins helped rescue a stranded swimmer after circling him to alert a stumped lifeboat crew.

The man, in his 30s, was more than two miles off land in the icy waters of Tralee Bay, Ireland on Sunday.

He was wearing just trunks and temperatures were quickly plummeting.

But volunteers from Fenit lifeboat eventually found him after being drawn to the man by the incredible sea creatures.

The lifeboat team and Rescue 115 were tasked with searching for the swimmer following the discovery of abandoned clothes on the beach.

Conditions were excellent with calm waters and a low tide and with nothing found and no further information, the search was stood down in the afternoon.

The search was reactivated at 6pm with two lifeboats searching the original area and the bay nearer to Tralee.

With 9pm approaching, they spotted the dolphins and a head above the water near Castlegregory beach.

Commenting on the rescue, Fenit RNLI lifeboat Operations Manager Gerard O’Donnell said the dolphins circled around him – perhaps in an effort to protect him and draw attention to his whereabouts.

Coxswain O’Donnell thinks they may have tried to herd him back to safety.

He said: “After a long and exhaustive search, members of the lifeboat crew were overjoyed to sight the missing swimmer in the water.

“They had been scanning the water for any sign of movement and were worried with light fading that they would not find anyone.

“Even at this time of year, the water can be very cold and as yet we don’t know how long this person was in the water and when they entered it.

“When the lifeboat crew found them, they were a good distance from the shore and were exhausted.

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O’Donnell added: “We would advise that anyone undertaking a swim lets people know where they are going and when they are expected back. This was a very lucky individual.”

RNLI coxswain Finbarr O’Connell added: “It was a great, great moment for us.

“The elation of seeing somebody floating alive in the water, rather than the other way, is so great.

“We have had too many bad outcomes, so it was absolutely fantastic to pick him up.”

“Normally we go out, and it mightn’t be that positive. We are all just elated.”