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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

2017 Season’s Spectacles!

An Otter-view

Overall, the 2017 season can be summed up in one word; unpredictable. Whether it was June or September, we could never really tell what we were going to encounter day to day aboard our boats. We had a few surprises, a few frights, and some amazing sightings in-between, all of which will be spoken about in great detail below! If you didn’t get to enjoy the stories the first time around, or weren’t there to see it yourselves, now’s your chance to see what you missed out on!

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Onward and October-ward!

The Final Curtain Call...

It's finally October, and that now means that there is only a month left until the end of the season; come Hallowe'en, our 2017 will have come to a close. It's been a weird and wonderful season, with some fantastic sightings, some drama, and a spattering of mystery here and there too. But we'll save our recap for the final blog of the season! The only recap worth doing now is our look back at the previous week, and what's been keeping us entertained there.

A Late Holiday for the Gruesome Twosome?

Kesslet and Charlie have been very mobile since our last big sighting of them just over a week ago now, when Charlie's marvelous antics kept everyone on board (staff and passengers alike) entertained and gobsmacked all at once. They've been seen together and on their own too, with Kesslet spending a day footering around after herring early in the week by herself, and Charlie travelling east on his tod a day later. When they've not been spotted by the Spirit, Mischief has found them further afield usually, spending a bit of time with the hang-arounds, Zephyr, Honey and their little ones. That being said, we've had a couple days where they've went totally AWOL, and I've heard they may have been sighted even further eastward than usual when neither of our boats have found them. At this time of year it's not unusual, as herring and mackerel shoal more often in deeper waters past Cromarty than in with us; this is normally evidenced by the good sightings of gannets you get around there at this time of year too. Speaking of our fishing feathered friends, we've had a bit of excitement recently, not just over our own incoming juvenile gannet groups, but also of some apparent sightings of Sea Eagles again! RIB skipper George wasn't just whistling Dixie when he gave us a shout on Sunday about some kites bombarding a bigger bird over fish near Munlochy. We tried to check it out on the Spirit, but could only see one of the kites circling and nothing more. George claims (with witnesses too) that this distinctly larger bird was being harassed by several kites. Do you think George has found himself a white tail. or a tall tale?

Sleeping Soundly

We've been seeing a lot of laziness around the firth when the animals have been out and about. The seals are very nonchalant at this time of year, and thankfully this aids our sightings tremendously as they start to spend more time lazing near the surface when hunting. On Monday we didn't have a single trip that saw less than 5 seals, and all seen for a long time too. The otters have even been caught preening themselves while sat on the buffers of the bridge; whether hunting or lazing around, we've seen them quite a bit in that area recently. Kesslet and Charlie have also been caught snoozing near Meikle Mee, possibly after wearing themselves out chasing smaller prey and travelling more to find them. It's going to be a hard winter so it seems if this keeps up! We'll just have to wait and see; with only 4 weeks left to go, who knows what might happen!

Like Herding... Dolphins?

A Difficult Month

Whew, and we thought August was a toughie! September is proving quite the handful so far, with our wildlife being so much less predictable than they were even last month! While the dolphins seem to be moving around a lot, Mischief is managing to catch up with them on the regular, Spirit is having a little bit of a harder time. That being said, Kesslet has managed to surprise us, both on her own and with friends in the past week. On Tuesday, she appeared for the whole day, catching salmon in the river as they were heading back out to sea. She seemed to do very well, and left at the end of the day with a nice full belly. She appeared on Wednesday too, again on her own for a bit of a nosey in the afternoon too. Charlie has been missing for a little while, but from what we've seen from others further out, he's spending a bit of time more to the east with some of the other social groups for a change. Mischief has found Spirtle on a number of occasions, and she's looking fantastic. She and her sister Honey are still hanging around, and we've been lucky enough to see them playing around while the boat has been near Eathie (see our Facebook for a little video of them having fun!). 

Other Finned Friends

While the dolphins have proven a little elusive for Spirit recently, it's opened the gate for some other little fins to make an appearance; the harbour porpoise! For only the third time so far this season we've come across them on two sailings this week, with them being the most obvious yesterday, surfacing nice and actively nearby in the Beauly Firth. We hope we may see a little more of our unicorns of the firth as the season closes, as they're such a special sighting. It's also a special time of year for another group of animals, our birds, as our gannets are returning to the area. We've seen them on most trips over the weekend, with a picking-up wind drawing them closer to the bridge. We've had mostly fledglings in the area, but a few adults to help teach the youngsters about life. Speaking of youngsters, we haven't seen our otter mum much recently, but when we have she's been around in the morning. We suspect she may have little ones just now, but her big male friend Pierre (as he's so called!) has been keeping us company as he hunts around the bridge. He's been quite the show-off over the past week! And it's not just the otters who may have little ones, as the greys have started to disappear from the firth; it's now the pupping season for the grey seals and they're moving more east to their designated pupping beaches. They'll return in spring, but for now, it's allowing the harbour seals to get out and about more, and to hoover up all the leftover fish in the firth! So while the season may be winding down, there's still plenty to see, and every trip is different. Nothing like a little bit of extra mystery to make a trip really interesting, eh!

Shhhh-eptember

It's Oh-So Quiet...

Welcome to the new, weekly blog here at Dolphin Spirit; as our season starts to wind down we'll be leaving all the blog excitement for a weekly recap to get the most out of every story coming out of our trips! But as it stands, after a stellar start, September is proving to be a rather quiet time, with all of our wildlife seemingly taking a bit of a breather after a hectic summer season. The seal pups have all been weaned and are now occasionally being spotted out in the water on their own, but for our Grey seals, all of the fun of the pupping season in just beginning. We'll see numbers of these seals drop off in the coming weeks as they make headway to their own preferred pupping grounds. Our otter mum hasn't shown up very much recently, and after all the eager anticipation over summer of new cubs, she seems to have not had any... yet. Her patterns have changed once again and she's being spotted early morning and late evening, which may be a sign of feeding youngsters. Her older cubs are still around, and sometimes have a bit of a sibling romp around the rocks and under the bridge, which is always good fun to watch. With the slow-down of the firth, we've been lucky enough to see (albeit briefly) some of the speedier visitors to the firth pop by now and again; the porpoise! Without doubt the shyest of all our wildlife, it's almost like spotting a unicorn when these little fellas appear, and luckily for us, we've had a couple within the past few days to get our hearts racing!

Dolphin Daydreams

It's been highly unpredictable once again on the dolphin front, with very little being seen of the resident terrible two, Kesslet and Charlie, but more visits from some of the Chanonry social groups now and again. Chanonry has been rather quiet for Mischief as well, but small, scattered groups are regularly being encountered off Eathie and over the other side towards McDermott Yard. We've seen a fair bit of Spirtle and crew, and Spirtle herself has gained even more fame after appearing on Countryfile! She had her own little segment describing what she's been through and how well she has been doing since. It's always an absolute joy to see her with all the spirit and joie de vivre a young dolphin like her should have, despite her injury and experience. She was recently photographed playing with friends and chucking about a huge chunk of seaweed like a true juvenile! In other calf news, there have been so far reports of around 5 or 6 newborns this season, including one for boat namesake Spirit! After her latest daughter turned three, Spirit surprised everyone by appearing with a tiny little tooty alongside near the Cromarty Firth! We can only hope they all have a lovely mild winter! It's also naming time for some of the older calves, who have had the old once-over from Aberdeen University and given their monikers for life. One such star from our trips to get his name is Zephyr's little boy, who is now called Zuzu! While convention normally has the names be in pattern with mum's name (and therefore we were expecting a more wind-based name like big brother Breeze), we think Zuzu's name is very fitting! What do you think?

Tides Have Turned

Another Visit from the Blue

Well it took us until 12pm to find our dolphins today, but when we found them, boy did we find them! As we approached Munlochy Bay, guide Krystyna was certain she saw something surface just at the entrance of the bay itself. She enlisted skipper Stuart to look, who grabbed a pair of binoculars to check out what she'd seen. Sure enough, about 200m in the distance, a fin surfaced! Then another one, and another one, and they just kept appearing! Zephyr and her youngster were the first to be identified, as Zephyr brought her little one close to the boat's port side after catching a small fish for herself. Ahead, there was a series of big breaches from two others, who, on approach, we found out were Bonnie and her youngster. The group swam with us for a while before we had to leave them be, and we turned around at Alturlie Point to head home. On the way back, Stuart spotted activity ahead near the Meikle Mee buoy, which turned out to be yet another dolphin! Kesslet appeared out of the blue, chasing fish on her own. She gave a few quick surface rushing dives and some more laid back surfacing before we had to leave her too. Charlie was also in the area, and as it turned out, while we were seeing that lot out under the bridge, he was throwing his own catch in the marina! He had approached a bright pink catamaran with his salmon, almost as if with a welcoming present, before turning tail and heading out not too long after, where we also caught him! All in all a wild 12pm trip, just showing how odd and wonderful August really is!

Spies in the Firth

We had Kesslet around for the 2pm as well, where we caught her tossing around a small salmon she had caught as she made her way back out towards Chanonry. She was very chilled out on her own, and we spent a good 10 minutes just watching her follow a bit in the distance. While that was the last of the dolphins to be seen, it wasn't the end of our wildlife spotting day, as the snoopy seals were certainly out and about too! We had a nice handful of harbour seals through the afternoon, but the morning saw no less than 3 spy-hopping seals do big high jumps to get a good look at us; most of these cheeky chappies were young grey seals! With this kind of unexpected sightings becoming a little more commonplace, who knows what we might see every day? Why not come aboard yourself and find out!

A Day of Surprises

Fun And (a bit of) Sun!

A slightly misleading title if ever there was one; we didn't have too much sun out on the firth today, as it came in dribs and drabs throughout the day, but the fun was in plenty supply! While we were out and about today, it wasn't just dolphins that we got to watch, as the RNLI over at North Kessock were busy putting on a show for visitors to their open day! They had displays, not just of their own lifeboat, but with the Invergordon Lifeboat and Coastguard 951 helicopter as well! We got to see a little bit of it throughout the trips we had today, which added a little bit of something different to our day! We also got quite the surprise to find Kesslet and Charlie were hanging around the river first thing in the morning! Kesslet even took the time to hunt out towards the canal, before all the noise started and the boats hit the water. When we came out at 12pm, we fully expected it to be dead (as the dolphins have shown us over the past few years that the open day is one of their least favourite days in the season!), but we were once again surprised not once, but twice! As we left the river, we spotted Charlie bobbing about in the distance. As we watched him, Kesslet appeared alongside us out of nowhere, poking her head right out of the water as she came up to have a good old look. But that was merely the beginning...

Coastguard 951 over the RNLI Station
The Coastguard Helicopter delights the crowd gathered at the North Kessock RNLI Station

 

Out Came the Fin ID Sheets!

On the return leg of the trip, we were keeping our eyes peeled for any signs of Kesslet or Charlie, in case they had finally decided to move out of the river. We didn't see them, but we did find another curvy fin on the move just east of the ICT Stadium; Zephyr and her youngster were having a bit of a nosey! While Zephyr clearly had her eyes on the fish, her youngster was having a great time, bouncing about the firth for a short while as the pair disappeared behind us. Again, that was not all, as another 3 fins popped up shortly after. Two were too distant to identify (but I am now certain it was Kesslet and Charlie moving out), but the one that came in close was a new one for us! A big male by the name of Beatrice; funny name for a boy dolphin, but he was named after the old oil platform of the same name! It left us scratching our heads for a moment before whipping out the ID catalogue to have a look, and sure enough there he was. Sadly that would be the last fin for the afternoon, but we did get to enjoy the company of our local seal colony throughout the rest of the day. Just goes to show, you never know who might turn up out on the water; that's the fourth Saturday this season where we've had a surprise dolphin bonanza to keep us awake and looking! Wow!

Not Being Seal-fish!

A Quiet One for Spirit

After all the madness that seems to have befallen the Kessock Channel over the past couple of days, it was strange to see it so quiet! Not a dorsal fin in sight all day, including on our special 7pm trip, but plenty of other wildlife making their presence felt. Primarily, the seals stole the show! We managed to spot another seal pup, possibly around a week old, among the adults on the mudflats this morning, and again later in the evening! Jet black in colour, the youngster stands out next to his rather pale mother! That puts us at either 5 or 6 new seal pups this year, and with the season for them coming to an end, it's fantastic to be able to say we've broken last year's record of 4 for sure now! I think next year will have a hard score to beat, but it's entirely possible; we'll just have to wait and see!

Mischief Makers!

That left us wondering where the cetaceans were hiding; it wouldn't be long until we found out where! Early this morning, both Kesslet and Charlie parked themselves at Chanonry Point to cause some trouble with Zephyr and her youngster. Our two and Zephyr's boy were spotted having a whale of a time, bouncing around each other with a good deal of social contact. Later in the afternoon, they were reported coming back in towards the Kessock Channel, but seemed not to have got that far as Spirit didn't spot them. However, Mischief had great views of the fun they were having we can be sure! It's weird that Scoopy isn't hanging around as much as he was before; in fact we've barely seen him with Kesslet in the past week or so. He's probably back with Bonnie's group, where he was before tagging onto Kesslet. It is that season after all, so we can't blame the fella for trying to get around! We do hope to see a little more of him soon though, as he was getting more confident with the boat and having a bit of fun with us too!

Another Active Afternoon!

Where Are They Coming From?

For the third time in about as many weeks, we have been absolutely spoiled by a travelling group of excitable dolphins in the Kessock Channel. After a quiet day yesterday, with sightings only briefly in the afternoon of Kesslet and Charlie, today's afternoon spectacle was the treat we were waiting for! Around 2pm, a large group of 7 dolphins arrived into the Channel; Kesslet and Scoopy were already present from earlier in the day. In the group this time were a number of mothers (and a cheeky Charlie to boot!). We had Bonnie, Zephyr, Honey and all of their calves appear out of the blue for a bit of high-spirited fun and games! They were there only briefly, just around an hour or two, before disappearing back under the bridge and into the outer reaches of the Inner Firth. The youngsters gave a couple of decent breaches in the centre of the Beauly Firth before taking their leave. It was fantastic to see once again, and we can only hope for more of it in the future!

A Game of Pairs

The social antics of the dolphins have been interesting to watch recently, and there has been a fair bit of movement all through the firth this summer. The usual Chanonry crew, inclusive of Zephyr, Honey and Bonnie, has been shouldered out it seems by a group of gregarious youngsters from further out. This "tiered movement" of the dolphins hasn't been seen in this part of the firth in such regularity for a number of years, and really we can only wonder at why it is happening again. The groups that tend to move down this way are unusual to say the least; Zephyr isn't known to leave Chanonry, Honey is rarely separate from Spirtle or her mother, although Bonnie has made moves down here over the past couple seasons. The one thing they do seem to share is Charlie, and he seems to be the catalyst for some of the movement we are seeing; always part of the herd as it travels down from the Point. Perhaps it's just coincidence that he is there, or maybe he is actually the driving force of the movement alongside the stratified movements from the north. Whatever the cause, it's making our days that little bit more interesting, and just proves you never know what you might see out with Dolphin Spirit or Mischief!

Hunting Party!

Dolphin Mischief Gatecrashes the Get-Together!

It was a cold and blustery day for the best part of the morning and afternoon, but the weather didn't hold back the Mischief from heading into the wilderness, and they'll be glad they went out! On arrival to Chanonry Point on the morning trip, Mischief found a lonely Sundance milling around just off the point. He wasn't very active, just swimming in the waves and ducking in and out of the riptide. A bit further out, a few more of the dolphins were sitting past the fort, doing much along the lines of the same thing, including Zephyr and her youngster. Zephyr and toot moved off to the point as Mischief were returning via Fort George back down the coast. The afternoon trip would prove far more fruitful, with the sudden arrival of several youngsters really putting a spanner in the works! 

Hardcore Hunting

Just before Mischief returned to Chanonry Point with the 12.30pm passengers, around 10 other dolphins descended upon the point. A few stayed at a distance, but it was wall-to-wall dorsal fins from Rosemarkie Bay round the point to be in line with the lighthouse! A few groups would become apparent and seperate off now and again, including a group of calves who detached from their parents and went on a breaching spree in the shipping channel between the point and Fort George. In that group were also Honey and sister Spirtle, who had a bit of breaching fun with Honey and Zephyr's calves. Mischief would trundle into the channel just as a heap of hunting kicked off, with five different dolphins working in tandem to corral and herd a group of fish; some of which went flying in different directions! Just behind the RIB, Sundance made a show of powering out an absolute monster of a salmon above his head. The hefty fish and hefty hunter crashed back into the water to the passengers' awe. As the RIB passed on round the coast of the fort, some of the dolphins did too, with a few breaches to boot. It was a fantastic afternoon, and Mischief's dolphin escort out of the Chanonry Narrows was the perfect mid-point to the trip. With the sun shining for the 3.30pm trip, one can only hope that it went just as well as the 12.30pm!

Skipper Gus pointing out dolphins
Skipper Gus pointing out Sundance's antics behind, unaware that another fin lurks nearby!

Best Day Ever?

An Afternoon of Dolphins

The 10am might have been one of the best trips through the day weather wise, with even a little sunshine to brighten the morning, but sadly it missed a vital ingredient for the perfect trip; dolphins! Thankfully though, it was the only trip of the day to suffer such misfortune. But that being said, it did get some fantastic views of our seals, including a little suckling pup! But as the rain took hold and the afternoon began, the dolphins made their appearance felt! First we saw of them was at 12pm, when Scoopy, Charlie and Kesslet were chilling out, drifting in no rush at all down the Beauly Firth. They took a moment to sit at the cardinal marker, almost as if deciding their next move before turning tack and heading into the river. We caught them on the way back too, and Scoopy eventually led the group back out of the river while he carried another lovely big salmon with him. At 2pm, Kesslet sat alone in the incredibly strong rip tide off North Kessock, making it difficult to spot her. As we headed out under the bridge we kept our eyes peeled for the other two, and found them up near Kilmuir, where they briefly appeared at the rear of the boat before turning back towards Meikle Mee and heading back in. Little did we know what they had brought back with them...

Season Record Smashed!

We got a message from Charlie Phillips over in North Kessock around half three, telling us that at least 7 dolphins were sitting in the Kessock Channel. With Kesslet meandering with a fish just outside the marina, we wondered where they had come from and who they were; we soon learnt just who! Charlie, with a grin in his voice, called to say Sundance, Bonnie, Zephyr and associated youngsters had joined Charlie and Scoopy for a feed around the rip tide Kesslet had been earlier. Nerves were shaking as we set up for the 4pm, hoping this second bumper dolphin group in as many weeks would stick about! Kesslet wandered out of the river shortly before 4, so we were slightly shaky that it was a sign they were leaving. With 32 passengers on board, we made our way into the river where we got out first major surprise! Kesslet came bombing past us in a huge surface rush, Charlie following shortly after for a quick bowride, and Scoopy not too far away either. Those three started a bit of social fun as we headed out, where we found Zephyr sitting furthest out near South Kessock, and Sundance, Bonnie and her youngster coming down the North Kessock side heading towards the bridge. We sat in the Beauly Firth waiting for a large cargo vessel to head into harbour, and as we came back down to head under the Kessock Bridge, it all kicked off! Lots and lots of breaching! Starting out of the river, Kesslet and Charlie headed the charge, bouncing all the way out and past the bridge into the Inverness Firth as we followed behind. We enjoyed watching them continue to breach, spyhop, rub each other and just generally be active for over 45 minutes out in that part of the firth! The group of around 9 dolphins we had in the Beauly Firth moved out past Meikle Mee and into the mist, leaving us all completely gobsmacked and grinning from ear to ear. I'm sure there will be many dolphin dreams had tonight!

Kesslet Breaches in the rain
Kesslet breaching on her own in the rain

Another Dolphin-tastic Day!

Bring Your Child to Work Day

Or so it seemed! On both Dolphin Spirit and Mischief, the groups spotted today were made up of mothers and calves (with the exception of Sundance at Chanonry, who was flirting with all the mums instead!). For both as well it may have seemed a little bit like a copy and paste scenario from yesterday, as the dolphins seen were very much along the same lines. On Spirit, today's sightings were of the troublesome two, Kesslet and Charlie, who spent the reasonably sunny Thursday morning and early afternoon hunting away in the river and Kessock Channel area together. Later in the afternoon it was only Charlie who turned up, throwing around his catch for the 2pm trip to see. Kesslet was probably not too far away, but being her usual sneaky self, she may have been sulking away in a corner. The two were a little more sedate than yesterday, and missing big buddy Scoopy to complete their threesome from yesterday; but I'm sure Charlie was relishing a little one-to-one time with his mum, as it's been a while since the two were together without the company of others.

The Mother-And-Toddler Group Makes Chanonry Their Playground

For Mischief today there was some fun to be had in the company of a few different groups of mothers and their youngsters. Sitting at the point for the good part of the afternoon were the usual suspects of late, Zephyr, Bonnie, Honey and associated calves. Spirtle also joined her sister for a bit of fun, and big lad Sundance was mooching in and cosying up to a couple of the ladies as well! They, too, were quite sedate for the most part; Spirtle got a little bit spritely in the latter part of the afternoon, giving a few excitable breaches further out from the point along with a hunting Zephyr. Zephyr caught a wee tiddly salmon for her efforts, but the rest of the crew were more than eager to have a look at her prize for themselves; moochers! Heading further out in the afternoon, Mischief was also joined alongside by a couple of travelling groups; a video of the encounter was taken by co-skipper Gus who has since put it up on our social media pages, so go have a look!

A Great Dolphin Day!

Dolphins All 'Round!

It was a beautiful day to be out in the Moray Firth, and a day enjoyed by passengers and dolphins alike it would seem! Both Dolphin Mischief and Dolphin Spirit got up close and personal with a few of their local "residents"! Spirit's day started nice and early with Charlie and Kesslet appearing in the Beauly Firth for the 10am sailing! At 12pm they disappeared, but brought a friend with them at 2pm in the form of big lad Scoopy, who seems to be back following his golden girl again for the time being! They took some time out to hunt in the river, providing good sightings on the way out and way back in for Spirit's sunbathing passengers! As they left the area at 4pm, they got quite social with the boat out near the Kessock Bridge; Charlie even showing off a bit with a casual breach in front! Seems like the sunshine brings out the best sides of our dolphins too! And it wasn't just Spirit who enjoyed a breaching bonanza either...

Mischief Stirs Things Up

A terrible pun of a title if ever there was one, as Mischief's main sightings were of Spirtle and her family making a ruckus out near Craig Mee this morning (for those who are unaware, a "spirtle" is a long stirrer for making porridge!). Spirtle's sunburns are looking even better once again, and the youngster was proving herself time and again in a little breach-fest with Honey and her calf. Mischief got to see a little bit of the fun, and also enjoyed a close-up with Zephyr and her little one again as well. Other dolphins in the area and near the point included the fantastic Sundance, who came through to make a bit of mayhem with some of the other youngsters in the area. Bonnie and her older calf got nice and active near the point too, with a bit of double breaching, and some physical biting and rubbing going on between some of the socialising youngsters. All in all, the sightings for Mischief were just as exciting as yesterday's, and it seems like this past week has been quite an active one across the dolphin board!

Finding Mischief

A Successful Morning!

Well, for one of the boats anyway; Dolphin Spirit had a no-sail due to lack of passengers for the first time in a long time! That meant it was up to Dolphin Mischief to provide the "scouting" info for the morning, and what a morning it was! All was quiet until the boat approached Chanonry. However, just as we turned the corner past the car park we saw a few splashes of activity; some breaching, some surface rushing. As we crept ever closer, nice and slow, we spotted a few of the well known dolphins bobbing around, and one big fin stood out above them all. Mischief, our boat's namesake, was surfacing furthest out from the point. As we approached, he came slightly closer with each surface, letting out a few bellowing blows before a long dive into the fast current just offshore. We left him and Bonnie and youngster to it, heading on towards Craig Mee and Fort George, encountering Moonlight and her youngster en route. As we made it to Craig Mee, we spotted Zephyr rooting around, and her youngster hunting for himself too. Bored of the chase for food, he came over to say hello to the boat, breaching off our bow twice before mum Zephyr came over to calm him down again. We left them to their breakfast and continued on again, discovering another small group making a fuss over by the seal colonies of Whiteness. A mother and calf came alongside for a short while, before disappearing off with another male. Our passengers were beaming with the interactions we had had so far, but that wasn't all there was to see...

Teasing from a Troublesome Two!

As the boat returned to the marina, in the river were two other dolphins waiting for us; Charlie and Kesslet! Kesslet said hello briefly, while Charlie came over and hugged the bow for a moment before vanishing too. They both disappeared upriver to hunt, and so Mischief left them to it. All in all, a successful trip! We would later find Kesslet and Scoopy further out in the Beauly Firth, who would become the subjects of Dolphin Spirit's later trips when they managed to go out. In total that makes at least 13 different dolphins spotted across both boats today! And lets not forget the curious seals, who were also more than happy to investigate us as we passed on by, both at the Whiteness and Marina colonies. Still no new newborns, just the two we spotted earlier, but we will certainly be keeping tabs on them over the next while!

Making Mischief!

Dolphins by the Dozen!

Dolphin Mischief had easily the best day of the two boats going out today; with the spectacularly calm and, at times, even sunny weather, it was the perfect day for a mischief-making experience! The 12.30pm trip was the first to go out, and boy was it a doozy! Not only were the lucky passengers joined by expert dolphin 'toggie Charlie Phillips, but they encountered a wonderfully active group of 12 dolphins hunting and playing around Rosemarkie Bay! The huge group of dolphins included a few well known individuals, including locals Kesslet and Charlie themselves. Others getting in on the fun included adoptable dolphin Rainbow and her son Indigo, Zephyr and son, and Moonlight's youngster! Plenty of breaching to be seen, quite close to the boat too, making for some great shots. You can see the pictures Charlie got from the RIB on our Facebook page!

A Mostly Grey Day

The sky clouded over for the afternoon shortly after the return of Mischief to the marina, with smiles all around brightening the dull day anyway! Despite the still calm conditions, the 3.30pm left today with only 2 passengers, though I'm sure they likely would have enjoyed having the boat to themselves, and hopefully catching up with that wild group further out past the point! Seals were also spotted through the day, including a particularly ravenous critter near the Meikle Mee buoy, who spent a good period of time near the surface, gnawing on a fish it had caught. It stuck around for quite some time, even while Mischief hovered about and looked on. As the month passes on we hope the weather will improve some more, and hopefully entice some more passengers to join the RIB for a trip; it seems such a shame to have people missing out when they could come aboard and see all this for themselves! If you've got a case of FOMO reading this, maybe it's time you treated yourself to a Mischief experience all your own!

Morning Madness!

A Season Record

We're beginning to think that our dolphins and buses run on the same schedule; just when you're sitting about waiting for one, six turn up at once! We had a great day overall, with dolphins spotted on 3 our of 4 sailings, but the true jewel in today's cetacean spotting crown was this morning's 10am trip. It started off like most 10am trips this week, with Kesslet hunting on her own around the river. She swam along with us as we went off into the Beauly Firth, and we continued to watch her there with her salmon for a short while before heading off again. As we came under the bridge, a group of 5 other dolphins magicked themselves into the area just ahead of us, and passed alongside to head into the channel where Kesslet was occupying herself. This group of five included Scoopy, Bonnie (and her calf), and Porridge (and also her calf!). We later found out they were not alone either, as Zephyr and her youngster also arrived in the area to make a total of 8 dolphins in the Beauly Firth area alone! So far this season, this is a record sighting, and we're certainly keeping our fingers crossed for more visits from groups like this in the rest of the season! The group did not leave empty handed either, as they spent a good while corralling fish between the North and South Kessock piers; hopefully they'll go off and let everyone else know about the feast Kesslet's been keeping to herself so far this year!

 

Breaching buddies in the Kessock Channel
Breach buddies!

Special Visitors

We were lucky enough to get a lovely visit from Charlie Phillips of the WDC today, and Mischief's 12.30pm passengers were lucky enough to even have him join them on their trip. Skipper Gus was excited just to have such a knowledgeable body on board, as for these new skippers it's a great opportunity to learn more about the dolphins and have a keen outside eye over the work they are doing and make sure they are doing it right and well. After the excitement of the morning, everything went quiet through the afternoon though, and the visiting group seemed to disappear into thin air with the turn of the hour. That being said, the fishing conditions seemed to be great all day, as we also spotted a Skua scouring around Munlochy late in the afternoon, as well as a hefty cloud of terns near Kilmuir most of the afternoon. Seems like the little fish were plenty for these birds, but the dolphins may have been after something more substantial. Maybe Kesslet was hogging all the good stuff as usual; she had three impressive salmon in the short times we spent with her, so who knows how many she had stowed away!

Ladies' Night!

Quite the Crowd

It was an enjoyable afternoon for Mischief up near Chanonry, where several groups of dolphins were milling around and hunting together. Dolphin Spirit didn't have quite the same luck, as local fail-safe Kesslet was actually up at Chanonry too! She had taken Scoopy and Charlie with her as well, but seemed to drop them off with Bonnie and her youngster when the boys started to get rowdy. Instead, she enjoyed the company of the "Porridge" girls, Honey and Spirtle, as they came through from further out. Zephyr also turned up with her little one, babysitting a little for Honey early in the afternoon while she and Spirtle socialized and hunted on their own. Spirtle's wound was quite the topic of discussion at the point (as off-duty guide Krystyna found), with many onlookers inquiring about the unusual dolphin. There is very little redness left on the burn, and the blubber layer is all that remains visible, showing that maybe once the year is out, that wound may be fully closed. Certainly by the second anniversary of her incident at the latest one would think! Mischief spotted this lot near Craig Mee, where they had left the point until the rising tide by the early evening. A calm experience for a change, but probably mostly because they were in the company of the local "mother and toddler" group!

Ott-er for a Walk

While Dolphin Spirit was ditched by the dolphins today, it wasn't all bad! This afternoon saw the return of the cheeky otters, who are seemingly just getting bolder by the day; today they actively approached the boat, making for some fantastic viewing for our passengers! We also got to see the seals in all their usual glory, enjoying the sunny spells while we had them. Maybe now that Kesslet has had her time catching up with the girls, she'll return to the river again to enjoy the salmon running there, as Chanonry is proving to be quite quiet on that front at the moment. We all know how much Kesslet likes a full belly! Maybe she might even bring some friends with her too!

An Osprey A Day...

If Only!

We wish we could see an osprey a day here at Dolphin Spirit, they are just such beautiful birds! That being said though, we were very lucky to see one hunting and hovering just over the Inverness Caley Thistle Stadium as we headed out this afternoon! It stuck around for a while, allowing passengers a good look before heading off across the bridge and into the murky, rainy abyss. We got to also enjoy sightings of our two new seal pups and the rest of the "mother and toddler group" as they chilled out on the mudflats, and our otter, who was out hunting on the 2pm trip near the bridge and rocky harbour wall. That really summed up our day today, as everything seemed to go the same way - chilled out and calm. Despite the rain which spattered us all day in dribs and drabs, Dolphin Spirit and Mischief both got out on the water and enjoyed the calm sea state; that makes a change from yesterday and Wednesday that's for sure! Unfortunately, the weather does not look good tomorrow at all; forecast of gale force 8 winds from 6am tomorrow may put the halters on our trips tomorrow. If you're in doubt about your trip, be sure to call ahead when the office opens at 9am to double check before setting off. We'll keep you updated across our social media if cancellations are on the cards.

Mischief Meets A Local Superstar

Dolphin Mischief had the joy of heading out to Chanonry twice today, and enjoyed some lovely encounters with some of the younger members of the Moray Firth dolphin population. One little visitor included the now-famous Spirtle, the sunburned dolphin. Spirtle, who will be 5 now, stranded at Nigg Bay last year for over 24 hours; she was found, luckily, by some lost dolphin watchers, who called out the correct rescue services to her aid. Despite the heavy burns to her right hand side, her rescuers gave Spirtle the benefit of the doubt and refloated her back into the deeper waters of the Firth. Spirtle has since taught onlookers the power of dolphin healing and seawater magic, as her massive burn scar has nearly all but healed. Spirtle is now also swimming correctly, and not letting her injury hold her back, and was today babysitting for sister Honey, who must have been nearby. The rest of the dolphins spotted were simply enjoying the calm, and hunting around for any available fish. There didn't seem to be many though, as those caught were quite small in places. Another of the dolphins in that area today was Kesslet, who had disappeared from the Kessock Channel for the day to spend a bit of time catching up with Zephyr and her youngster, catching a small fish, before meandering back down home. Sadly for us, the 4pm Dolphin Spirit trip didn't get to go out, so we didn't get to catch her on her way down! Hopefully we'll get to hear all about her adventures from her tomorrow, if she decides to be sociable with us landlubbers again!

Not Alone!

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat...

Mischief got out today to enjoy the rays which graced the Outer Firth this afternoon; after the forecast of heatwave conditions for the rest of the country, we here up north were understandably wondering where ours would be. We got our "heatwave" in the form of some late sunshine and 15 degree heat. It wasn't just the humans who were enjoying the lovely weather, but the dolphins too, who graced Mischief with a visit as she passed through Chanonry in the afternoon. Our relatively imposing 9.5 metre RIB was also dwarfed by a passing cruise liner leaving Invergordon in the distance; it made even Dolphin Spirit look small!

Hunting Buddies

The point was relatively quiet this afternoon, with Zephyr and calf, Moonlight and calf, Scoopy, and young Spirtle the first to arrive for a spot of hunting as the riptide formed close to the shore. Zephyr and her little one got into a little bit of animated antics, with her son breaching nice and high over her head as she spyhopped to look; it was like something out of a toddler swim class! Spirtle disappeared with a group of young friends, leaving the "nursery group" behind. Unusually, Zephyr was not the one to be catching fish today, as Moonlight had beat her to it with a fantastic salmon that she was very reluctant to show; seems like Zephyr could learn a thing or two from her about table manners! Scoopy milled around, entertaining the youngsters from time to time, travelling in and out of the rip with them by his side. Things suddenly spurred up in the distance with the arrival of Bonnie, who, in great fashion, punted a terrified and stunned salmon into the sky with a tremendous surface rush. She would later move towards the point in an attempt to find a quiet patch to swallow her catch. Keeping their distance so as not to disturb all the action going on, Mischief got to enjoy all this action in comfort. Who will you see on a trip with us?

Zephyr and calf breaching
Zephyr and her calf engaging in some cute duo acrobatics

Bouncing Baby Dolphins!

Chasing the Grey Away

The Moray Firth with plagued with some pretty horrible weather today; with a tremendous westerly wind all day and some scattered, heavy showers throughout, it wasn't exactly a day for going outside. However, that was not enough to deter our guide Krystyna (who took her usual sabbatical to Chanonry Point), or the Dolphin Mischief, who carried 4 excited and well-kitted passengers into the windy mess of waves that was the Chanonry narrows. While Mischief only arrived at 4pm (as it was the only trip the boat was able to make in the adverse conditions), Krystyna had been there from 9.50am - a good several hours before the action started - surveying the area. Scoopy had been present in the morning, hunting on his own just off the coast of Chanonry before peeling off to Fort George and away into the distance. But come 2.30pm, the most magical thing happened, and Mischief got right into the thick of it (as you can see above!).

Dolphin by the Dozen

The first to arrive at the point, unsurprisingly, was Zephyr, who went about hunting almost immediately, doing big dives and fast surface rushes as she chased fish. Her calf joined her momentarily, in the company of Charlie and a few of the boisterous males, including big Sundance! The boys went off to play, breaching and touching heads and tails, as Bonnie and her youngster arrived, adding another body to the dynamic. Bonnie spent her time in the tidal current with Zephyr, while her youngster got taught a lesson or two from Charlie and Sundance (who at several points were bashing each other over the head with their tail flukes!). The "Porridge" family was the last to join in, with Porridge and her calf, Honey and her little one, and even the sunburned Spirtle appearing too. As the ladies split off into little hunting parties, Zephyr babysitting for Porridge while she had a chance to hunt, the boys continued their madness. The breaching was continual for almost an hour, and the little one-year-olds would also get involved, playing chases with the bigger calves and Charlie. It was a fantastic scene, and even as the Dolphin Mischief drifted in, it didn't stop. In fact, the males took their chance to use the boat like a prop in a game of "I can jump higher than you"! This got Mischief a front row seat to the action that was almost a speck from the shore (if only the passengers had looked the right way! D'oh!)

Do you want to get right up close to the action; seeing wild and free dolphins play just metres from you? Be the envy of the landlubbers? Book your Dolphin Mischief experience today here!

Sunshine Splashing Spectacle!

The Sun Sets the Stage for an Amazing Show!

After the horrible, stormy day that was the second last day of May, it seems the month has decided to go out with a stunning, sunny bang! With little wind and plenty of sunshine, both Dolphin Spirit and Mischief were able to get out on the water and enjoy some mid-week therapy with our dolphins! It wasn't just the passengers sunning themselves either, as Mischief found at Chanonry Point, where a group of 8 dolphins were enjoying the weather and good food just off the point.

Charlie Gets Animated!

Our local boy Charlie is very well known for being a cheeky rascal, regardless of who he's with and he's always keen to put on a performance. Today was no different! While hanging around with Honey and her calf from last year, Charlie gave a fantastic set of breaches in the Chanonry Narrows (one of which is pictured above)! You can only imagine that Honey was underwater rolling her eyes at him, much like mum Kesslet must do. He's certainly a show-off and a bad influence on the little ones! Zephyr and her little one were also around, a little further away, as well as big Scoopy, who was chilling out with Bonnie and her youngster. In total contrast to Charlie, Bonnie was rolling around all relaxed-like in the currents as Scoopy and her youngster swam alongside. It was nice to see that it wasn't just a good time for all those watching!

Sneaky Seals!

And if that wasn't enough, the local seals were also getting a little up close and personal! Our sightings of them have been increasing steadily over the past couple months, and as we come into the pupping season over summer, it's only set to get better on that front too! That being said, we had a few couple curious seafarers pop up to say hello to the boats too. One even seemed to join the Mischief in a spot of dolphin watching! With the better weather too, hopefully our resident harbour seals will be appearing on the mudflats as well. It's all looking good here at Dolphin Spirit sightings-wise! Why not join us? You can book your experience here!

Mischief with a sealNot all dolphin-waters with Mischief had waterproofs!


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