A close encounter with dolphins is something one local man says will live with him forever after getting up close to the special visitors at a popular north coast beach on Sunday.
Allan Bogle donned his scuba gear as soon as he saw the dolphins not far off Portstewart’s Strand beach, and with his wife Alison and his brother-in-law managing to capture the moment on camera and video, he says it’s 10 minutes he’ll never forget.
“Those few minutes will live with me forever,” he said, after rushing out to the dolphins and watching them swim, dive and jump around him.
The 40- year-old from Eglinton was visiting his parents’ holiday home in Portstewart when he spotted the dolphins from the beach shortly before 11am.
“I threw on my wetsuit and snorkeling gear and swam out towards them to get a better look, and spent the next 15 minutes swimming with them. There were about five or six of them in the pod. I was just in the right place at the right time to spot them,” he said.
“There were some fish jumping so I think they may have followed a shoal of herring into shallow water to feed,” he said.
“It was exhilarating. There was a moment or two when I wondered about the photo that had been going around on social media of the thresher shark off Rathlin Island,” he admitted.
“But the dolphins were friendly. I have seen the odd one off the coast before, but this is the first time I’ve been able to get so close to them,” he said. “Never this close to shore and never within distance to actually interact with them like this though.
“I’ll just be sitting down with a cold beer tonight and reliving the experience,” said Allan who works as an environmental education officer for Derry City and Strabane Council.
“It was a real thrill to be so close, to watch them dive under me and hear them clicking. They put on a great show.”