Something Stingy Has Arrived…
That’s right, it’s that time of year again; the jellyfish have been sighted in the Moray Firth. Like bees and butterflies are the first signs of spring, jellyfish are the Moray Firth’s sign of summer! Perhaps drawn in by the two weeks of fantastic, warm climate, the jellies are appearing in decent numbers now from the reaches of Kilmuir in towards the Kessock Channel too. Keep an eye out for these strange, almost alien-like critters just below the surface; they’re bright, yellowy-white in colour with a red-pink star like pattern on the top of the bell (or body) of the jellyfish. Last year we had a great many of these animals in the firth, and they provided some vital nourishment for our wayward sunfish visitor. Perhaps this year may see something similar happening.
A Pilot without a Navigator
In our first year, we had some pretty tremendous sightings, though not all of them were bottlenose dolphins. In fact, around August 2015, we were accompanied by an altogether different kind of dolphin; a pilot whale. Pilot whales are not whales like the name suggests, but some of the largest oceanic dolphins, exceeded in size only by the Killer Whale (or Orca), who is also a dolphin. These “whales” are also referred to as “blackfish”. Pilot whales are not totally unknown to the Moray Firth, and small groups have been spotted in the past near Cromarty, however, much like other dolphins, lone pilot whales are a strange sight indeed. So when we came across this huge fin following a pod of roughly 7 bottlenoses, we were obviously surprised. The sad fact of the matter is that this was certainly a bad sign; unusual sightings like these are normally not without reason, and many of the whales (true or otherwise) do not make it back out of the Inner Firth. This poor soul was no different. After disappearing into the Beauly Firth with its new friends, the pilot whale reappeared two days later; unfortunately this time it was floating belly-up near Kilmuir. It seems like this individual had gotten lost, and anticipated that following the dolphins may also have meant food. Sadly, it didn’t get what it was looking for. Sightings like this just go to show that every day in the Moray Firth is different, and you never know what you’ll see next!
White Tails and Wild Hearts
We always talk about the Red Kites and Osprey that hang around the Firth, but did you know there have also been sightings of an even bigger bird? White tailed sea eagles have occasionally been spotted over the Caledonian Canal area and around the Beauly Firth. These large birds are generally confined to the west coast, where they feed on fish and other birds. The sightings we get are typically of juveniles, obvious due to their impressive, white fan-tail. These could be west coast individuals on the move, or possibly even other individuals from a recent east coast reintroduction program. Regardless, they are very impressive to witness, so keep an eye on the sky next time you’re out with us!