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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

Childminders' Day Goes Out With A Splash!

A Visit From Our Lovely Locals!

Our local mother-son pair, Kesslet and Charlie, really made a splash aboard the Dolphin Spirit today, giving our guests a rousing welcome back into the marina! We were celebrating our first Childminders' Day aboard the cruiser, with various childminding groups and families joining us for a fun filled day of face-painting, games, and, to top it all off, our dolphins! While we did have a very fleeting glimpse of them on the 10am trip, it wasn't until 12pm that they decided to come out and play; and boy was it worth the wait! You can see their antics over on our Facebook page here.

Super Skippers Ahoy!

We had so many brave youngsters join us today that Skipper Brian almost found himself out of a job! Once we were past the Kessock Bridge, everyone was given the opportunity to drive the boat! While this really was meant for some of the younger passengers, that didn't stop parents and group leaders getting involved too! It was a lot of good fun, and everyone who tried was a natural. Guess we won't have any trouble looking for new skippers in the future then!

Fabulous Painted Faces

Yvette's daughter Jemma was in this afternoon, dolling up our guests with some wonderful facial artwork! We had everything from tigers, to dolphins, to stars today! Thankfully, the weather stayed dry for most of the day, and the face paint survived (at least until the end of the trip!). We're hoping that this will become a constant feature of our seasons from now on; we had so much fun hosting the event and everyone else seemed to have a great time too! Come and visit us next year if you have a childminding group and take advantage of our special rates and events when we host our next Childminders' Day!

Meet The Team - Yvette

Starting at the Top!

Every few days we will run our "Meet the Team" feature, showcasing our wonderful, varied staff and their stories! This will give you an insight into the crew caring for you on your next Dolphin Spirit or Dolphin Mischief adventure! Today, we are starting from the top with Director Yvette!

Humble(r) Beginnings

Today, Yvette is a successful Highland business woman, having been the brains behind the entire Dolphin Spirit venture in 2015. This wasn't always the way, however, as prior to her jump into the rough waters of entrepreneurship, Yvette was an accomplished childminder. Needless to say she has put her skills to good use at Dolphin Spirit even to this day (though instead of looking after and caring for demanding children she's looking after and caring for demanding staff these days!). Dolphin Spirit's goal, and Yvette's vision, was to become the family-friendly dolphin attraction that Inverness so badly needed; accessible to all ages and abilities, she was set to be a great focal point in the bustling tourist city. Yvette attributes her idea to watching the local dolphins near her home and Caley Marina, and realizing there was a gap in the market for Inverness' own dolphin boat. Most boats running dolphin trips in the Highlands are small, RIB craft, which excludes many locals and tourists from joining the fun. Yvette wanted her contribution to be much more than that, providing a calmer, guided experience, which would allow all aboard. When the opportunity to purchase of vessel that could accommodate her wishes (later to be named "Dolphin Spirit"), it was pretty much a no-brainer. 

Taking the Lead

Yvette's role in the company is several-fold. While she oversees much of the backroom goings-on at Dolphin Spirit, she is also the basis for much of our advertising and conversing with other companies; in this essence she is the "business face" of Dolphin Spirit. She also works on the main desk too, welcoming passengers to the marina and working the ticketing reception. While all of Yvette's decisions are essentially final, she does take the chance to ask the opinions of fellow employees, giving everyone their say in not just how their section should run, but how they see the company running as whole. This makes Dolphin Spirit a company run by the vital cogs which keep it working so smoothly. You will see Yvette almost anywhere in the office, and while she may look a little frantic at times she always works with a smile - an attitude she has passed on to many of her employees too!

Going Forward

Yvette is looking to constantly expand on her success so far; Dolphin Spirit has only been running for 2 years (now on its 3rd), but has managed to become a top 5-star Visit Scotland attraction on its first QA visit. The addition of Dolphin Mischief to her fleet has been an extension of that success, looking to provide another experience to the repertoire already offered at Dolphin Spirit Inverness. Yvette works tirelessly to keep her crew and her boats running smoothly. She is always hoping that the next year will be better than the last, and that her tours are able to show everyone the meaning of "Dolphin Spirit"!

A Day Full of Dolphins

Every sailing saw dolphins!

Our resident girl Kesslet didn't disappoint our passengers today, as she was present for all four sailings! First spotted out near the canal, Kesslet bee-lined straight for the boat after clocking us over at North Kessock. She even came for a short bow-ride before leaving us to hunt; something she has been very reluctant to do since the loss of her calf. It seems that, being the big, resilient girl that she is, Kesslet is beginning to get over the sad passing of her second calf in a row and is getting on with things. 

Closure

Speaking of Kesslet's calf, our friend at the WDC, Charlie Phillips, may have stumbled upon the poor soul at Avoch beach today. On his way to work at Chanonry Point this morning, Charlie found a small dolphin among the seaweed on the beach. After 5 weeks at sea, the little body was in a poor state, but it was Charlie's opinion that is highly likely this is (or was) Kesslet's youngster. The body was recovered by the SMASS and will likely be studied by various departments. We may yet get some information about the calf, though the body was in too bad a state for a formal necropsy. For now we are simply going to wait and see what comes of this rather sad discovery. 

Weekend Fun

As some of you may know, it is childminding week this week. We are celebrating this weekend with a special childminding day on Saturday with special rates for childminders, their families, and the kids they look after. After working in the industry for many years, boss Yvette knows the struggles childminders face and the lack of appreciation they receive for the hard work they do. Along with our child-friendly and activity focused trips, there will be face painting in the afternoon to help make the day unique and specially tailored to children's groups! If you, or someone you know, is looking for the perfect day out for a childminding group, get in contact with us over the phone on 07544 800620 to book your place; spaces are filling up fast! 

Dolphins Get Into The Dolphin Spirit

Fun in the Sun

Over the past week we have seen the return of young Charlie, Kesslet's 9 year old son, to the Kessock Channel for a bit of fun and mischief. Much like his mum was at that age, Charlie is incredibly energetic and social around boats, earning him the title of "urban dolphin". He's been spotted bow-riding the Dolphin Spirit, as well as hunting and resting around the Kessock Bridge and Meikle Mee buoy. Like mother like son so they'd say!

Trading Places

Despite Charlie's grand return, mum Kesslet was nowhere to be found! On the evening of the 8th she was spotted on her way back into the Inner Moray Firth by one of our guides on a "busman's holiday" to Chanonry Point. She was on her own as usual, and didn't hang around for long before zipping off. Charlie and his mum have not spent as much time together as they have apart in recent times; one can only wonder if they've had a bit of a falling out! It was also noted that Kesslet has been through the wars recently, as her tail is covered in a small number of new rake marks. This could be the result of social interaction with some of the other dolphins when she's been away on her travels, though it has been somewhat unusual to see her so marked, especially given how much she's secluded herself since the birth of her last calf. It doesn't seem to have bothered her much, as she's still fishing around the river mouth and Kessock Channel once more as usual.

Kesslet with new rakes on her tail
Kesslet's back and tail, showing the extensive markings; some are old, some are new

Shy Seals Spotted

The other local marine mammals seem to be coming out of hiding too! Our seal sightings are on the up, after a particularly quiet start. Harbour seals are the most frequent, generally popping up around the Kessock Channel when they can sneak a fish from the dolphins. Our grey seals have also been present, mostly out in the more shallow water near Meikle Mee. It's nice to see them again, considering that the start of the harbour seal pupping season is soon! We will be keeping our eyes out for more pups this year as our sightings of pups across both the harbour and grey seals have grown exponentially over the years; only 1 pup in 2015, but 4 last year! Now that Dolphin Mischief is also regularly checking in on the Whiteness seal colony near Ardersier, it will be interesting to see how this population compares!

Worthwhile in All Weather

Scottish Weather Never Guaranteed!

Up here in the north of Scotland we can almost never predict the weather, and sometimes even the Met Office get a little confused! "Oh no," we hear you cry, "but I booked on a day it was meant to be sunny! Now it's raining!" It's a very typical scenario, for tourists and locals alike! However, no matter the weather, Dolphin Spirit has got you covered (almost quite literally!)

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All Paws On Deck!

Let Your Hound Join In The Fun!

Planning a trip to Inverness in the coming weeks? Looking for something fun that everyone can do; even the dog? One thing we at Dolphin Spirit understand is an owner's want (and sometimes even need!) to bring their hound everywhere they go. As most of us are dog owners ourselves, we have all been through the "finding a dog friendly activity" scenario when it comes to planning a family day out. This is why our lovely big cruiser, Dolphin Spirit, is totally dog friendly (and our guides are too!).

Get Featured On Our Social Media!

Not everyone likes getting their picture taken, but we can celebrate being one of Inverness' top family and dog-friendly attractions by using the family furball as an extension of that! On our Facebook page we have always featured our visiting furry friends under the hashtag #HoundsNeedHolidays. Every dog that has come aboard has had their own mini photo-op with a small family interview. You and your dog could be the next to be featured! Our feature is getting a fancy new upgrade soon, with its own gallery on our page, where your visit can be immortalized to look back on easily. Not only that, but there's plenty of love and attention lavished on every pooch we see, as our guides are very keen to meet everyone on the boat (four-legged or otherwise!). 

A Few Things to Remember...

While we welcome dogs aboard any Dolphin Spirit sailing, they must be on a lead at all times. Some sailings may also have multiple dogs on board, so please consider the sociability of your dog before deciding to bring them along. Dogs are unfortunately not allowed inside the marina building and must wait outside before departure. We will always ask permission to photograph your dog; if you do not wish to participate in the #HoundsNeedHolidays gallery then you may decline the guide's offer. 

So for a fun family day out (even for four-legged friends), book your Dolphin Spirit adventure here!

Marvelous May Sightings

May Gets Off To A Splashing Start!

The start of May has brought us some brilliant weather and the Moray Firth seems to have sprung alive! We've been seeing a lot of Kesslet aboard the Dolphin Spirit, but she isn't the only visitor making our passengers "ooh" and "ahh" just now. Dolphin Mischief has been struggling with some difficult weather conditions, but when she gets out, they've been seeing a lot of two very lovely dolphins in particular, Zephyr and her young son!

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Your Special Occasion With Dolphin Spirit

Make Your Special Day Even More Special!

Here at Dolphin Spirit we want to make sure every passenger has a fun-filled experience no matter which adventure option they choose. If you are coming aboard to celebrate a special occasion, like a birthday, engagement, or even a hen or stag party, please make sure to let us know. We will go that little bit further to help make your celebration that little bit more special!

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News on Kesslet's Calf

The Bad News...

Unfortunately we have some rather sad news about Kesslet's latest calf, nicknamed "Kessickle". On the afternoon of April 9th, our 4pm sailing encountered a rather sleepy Kesslet with her young calf around Meikle Mee. All seemed well then, with the youngster rather active around Kesslet as she rested after a long day hunting in the river and Kessock Channel. The next day, our locals were absent all day, which was unusual. The truly unusual thing was that, on the 11th, Kesslet returned to the River Ness with Charlie in tow. The little calf was nowhere to be seen. We kept a vigil on for a few days, still with no sightings of Kesslet's little one. After two whole weeks of a solitary Kesslet, it has officially been announced by the WDC that the calf has sadly passed on. We will never know what happened to it, unfortunately, and we are very saddened to say goodbye to such a beautiful little bundle of joy. For now, Kesslet is getting on with things, and so are we.

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Attention All Mischief Makers and Spirited Sailors

We can’t shout about it enough; 2017 is going to be the biggest and best year yet for Dolphin Spirit! Don't get us wrong, 2016 was a brilliant year; our 5-star quality assurance rating from Visit Scotland was the icing on a delicious cake made up of tremendous sightings, a whole load of new experiences, and of course, visits from our fantastic passengers! It's hard to believe 2017 is only going to be our third year!


With all that success in 2016, we are aiming for the stars with our new vessel Dolphin Mischief (I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now!). A longer experience at 2 hours a trip, Mischief is set to be a fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled race to Chanonry Point and beyond. For those who have already been aboard Dolphin Spirit, or for those looking to get their blood pumping, this is the perfect experience to see a little bit more of the glorious Moray Firth landscape, and hopefully a little more of the wildlife on offer too! Tickets for Mischief are available to book now from £32.


The Dolphin Spirit herself has had a bit of a facelift too, with a new paint job and some touch-ups to her graphics on the outside, and a furniture fix on the inside. In addition to all the big, fancy works, Dolphin Spirit now carries 5 languages on board with her new language sheets! All you need to know about the safety drills, the wildlife and the scenery is now available in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish for the new season! School groups are in for a treat too; education packs are also now available in primary and secondary levels to help make the trip a more school-friendly and educational experience. Tickets for Spirit are available to book now from £18; larger groups should contact us directly by phone or email for discounts and information on private charter.


But that’s not all! The reception area is receiving a bit of an upgrade as well! We are currently working on a project which will see the reception area equipped with new display stands for our gift shop products, as well as an upgraded snack section! Along with our hot drinks and biscuits, we are planning to also have various sandwiches and cold drinks and snacks available in our new display fridge. A lovely new slideshow will also play on the reception’s (formerly) redundant big-screen, featuring footage from our sailings from guests and guides alike.


We’ve been working really hard this winter to make 2017 really special for all our passengers, new and returning, so we hope you’re all as excited about it as we are! Meanwhile, locals Charlie and Kesslet have been enjoying their winter around the Moray Firth, poking their noses into the Beauly Firth to see us now and again. Kesslet and her brand new calf were also recently spotted in Scrabster, near Thurso, where they seemed to be enjoying some alone time on a short break! This impromptu trip is the furthest north Kesslet has ever been; talk about sightseeing!

Our season starts on the 1st of April this year, so book now and get yourself into the #DolphinSpirit or into #DolphinMischief!



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