Discover The Dolphins
Meet Some of the Moray Firth’s Superstar Dolphins!
Upon writing the “Meet the Team” segments, it becomes apparent that we actually haven’t given you a proper introduction to the other stars of the show – the dolphins! In today’s blog we will cover a few of our most spotted individuals, how we identify them, and where we find them! How many on the list have you spotted?
Easily our favourite local lass here at Dolphin Spirit, Kesslet has been present on our trips since day one. Arguably the easiest to identify, due to her incredibly curved dorsal fin, Kesslet is a common sight around the River Ness and Kessock Channel. At the young age of 22, Kesslet is considered to be in the prime of her life. She has had 3 calves so far, though only one of which has survived – her son Charlie. Kesslet stands out, not just in appearance but in personality, choosing to spend a lot of time hunting on her own. She is occasionally joined in her hunts and travels by Charlie or her old pal Scoopy. That being said, Kesslet is also sometimes spotted among larger groups further out towards Chanonry; groups which will normally include Charlie, Scoopy, Bonnie, and Bonnie’s calf. She seems to be particularly fond of sea trout, a food which keeps her around the Inner Firth even in winter.
Charlie is a cheeky chappy, and we love seeing him around. Ever since Kesslet had and lost her last calf, Charlie has remained a little distant from the Kessock Channel, but often returns to check in on his mum (what a good son!). Charlie will be 10 this year, making him a sub-adult; he’s not quite the age to start breeding yet, but that doesn’t stop him showing off in the hopes it will get him some attention! Charlie is a member of a young male pod affectionately named “The Bad Boys’ Club” who are known for their boisterous antics and acrobatic displays. Even on his own, Charlie displays these youthful behaviours, often breaching and showing off to any boat who’ll let him. Charlie’s social groups are particularly wide, though he is known to flirt with various mother-calf groups, including Zephyr, Bonnie, Honey and all their youngsters. Bonnie’s calf and Charlie seem to have an almost brotherly-spat going on, as when they’re together they are often bouncing around each other and socializing, despite a 6-or-so year gap. Charlie is quite easy to identify in a number of ways (he is pictured above). His fin is tall and slightly bent near the top, with a few newly-accentuated nicks near the top and middle. His face is very recognizable, with a band of white over his rostrum (nose) with what almost looks like little black freckles.
Zephyr will most likely be seen by the Dolphin Mischief, as she is a very regular visitor to Chanonry Point. Zephyr is a mother to a couple of calves, namely Breeze and her newest youngster who is 1.5 years old and doesn’t have a name yet. This youngster will often be spotted at Zephyr’s side, though is becoming more independent now – often adventuring his environment and hunting tiddlers just within sight of his mum. Having been around for a while, Zephyr is very used to boats and often curious of them, though if there’s salmon going you can bet that will be on her mind more than chasing boats! Zephyr is perfectly happy to hunt on her own, usually the first dolphin to arrive at the point. That being said, she will mingle with other mothers when they do arrive. She’s an excellent hunter, and can easily catch 3 or 4 big salmon in a single session. Zephyr is quite easy to identify, with a slightly curved fin like Kesslet, though not as pronounced. The rear side of her fin is slightly nicked when you see it up close, and her back just under her fin has some mottled patches.
Zephyr peeking through the waves
Scoopy is a bit of a social butterfly, flitting in and out the Inner Firth, possibly spotted anywhere. He has been hanging around with Kesslet for a number of years, and is thought to be just a little bit older than her, perhaps around 25 years old. Up until recently, when he was around 18 or so, Scoopy was relatively unmarked and was generally on the outside of social gatherings. These days, however, Scoopy is relatively well marked and easy to spot, with two large nicks near the middle of his fin and a number of rakes and marks around his head. He mingles in generally the same circles as Charlie would, and sometimes travels on his own. His shyness extends to how he treats boats; he’s a little elusive. In the right circles he can be encouraged to get excited, but is generally quite relaxed when we’ve spotted him.
Bonnie’s Aberdeen University ID is “Squat Fin”, and it is easy to see why. Very easily recognizable by her short dorsal fin and generally quite petite stature, Bonnie is another of our commonly spotted individuals. She is often accompanied by her older male calf, who is around 4 years old now. In comparison to Bonnie, her calf has a very tall fin that is as of yet relatively unmarked. When they were last spotted aboard Dolphin Spirit, Bonnie’s calf had a few shallow rakes on the left hand side of the dorsal fin, though those will have faded by now. Bonnie is a very sweet little dolphin, always part of a group and generally with either other mothers or the youngsters; it seems she has a bit of a nurturing side! She has been spotted right down into the Kessock Channel and out at Chanonry, so there is opportunity to spot her on any sailing, like Scoopy.