Moonlight and Starlight’s story 2023

May 2023- first interaction with another dolphin

In May, the pair where seen interacting with another dolphin for this first time. A bottlenose dolphin, from a pod of 8 that we seen just outside Peel bay, followed Moonlight and Starlight into the bay. This was probably an adult male dolphin seeking out Moonlight who may have been giving off pheromones. They were not seen together for long, nor have they been seen with any other dolphin since. 

Left: unknown dolphin, Middle: Moonlight, Right: Starlight. Dave Corkish 16/05/23
Playing dead July 2023

It seems like Moonlight is not only super clever but has a sense of humour too. She was seen playing dead!
I must say, she gave us all a fright.

It happened on 27th July 2023 off the back of Peel breakwater when Moonlight was seen floating motionless upside down. She remained this way for at least 20 minutes, with Starlight nudging her mum’s body with her beak and breaching a few times creating quite a lot of attention. MWDW were watching, convinced that she was dead or very badly injured and were all set to inform the marine mammal medic group. As her body floated further away from the breakwater, the Casey J Charter boat were just heading out with a group of kids, we telephoned to warn them, but as they answered they said Moonlight and Starlight had just appeared and were riding the bow of the vessel! Moonlight was not dead at all, nor was she injured, as she enthusiastically played around the boat and entertained the children on board! 

This encounter raises a lot of questions- have dolphins ever been documented to play dead before? Why was she doing this?

All photos in this sequence taken by Peter Killey on 27/07/23 

Super swim speeds

Through August, the pair upped their travelling speed and regularly covering huge distances, one particular example is a day which started with the pair bow riding a boat at 9am in Port Erin, before being seen in Castletown around midday, Marine drive at 5pm and Laxey at 6pm. The following day they were back in Gansey at 08:00! 

In September, the pair were seen holding fins as can be seen in this video by Daniel Pyle. This footage also allows us to see that at almost 4 years of age, Starlight is almost adult size. 

Close encounters

2023 saw the pair’s closest interactions with humans yet. This included the pair regularly approaching swimmers in shallow water. 


We issued a code of conduct early in the summer to instruct people what to do if appproached by Moonlight and Starlight, not just in a boat, but kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skiing and swimming. You can view this code of conduct below.

On 25th November they were photographed piloting 6 different boats into Peel within 45 mins. 

4th birthday party​

To celebrate Starlight’s 4th birthday we asked local children to create birthday cards. I think you will agree these are FINtastic!


The story continues