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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

Where's Kesslet?

The Lady of Firth... Missing?

A dull, dark day out on the Firth saw us enjoying our encounters today in the rain! Through the murk, we managed to spot one of our locals, but not the usual loner; this time it was Charlie! Without his mum in the vicinity (not the river, not in the Beauly or out past the bridge), it was quite surreal to see him. That being said, he was ever the playful boy that we know him to be, playing with the boat and showing off his catches when we saw him at 12 and 4. Thankfully we know now that Kesslet really wasn't all too far away; hunting further up towards Redcastle for sea trout on her own. Charlie Phillips was lucky enough to get a fleeting glimpse of the troublesome two from shore, but a hungry Kesslet managed to sneak past our boat in her quest for food. At least her son is a bit more sociable!

Super Cute Sightings

We've all heard the "rising tide" recommendation for dolphin sightings, but now there's another reason to consider hopping aboard at the low tide or falling tide - our seals! You may remember a couple of blogs ago we spoke of the newest face to appear in the Moray Firth, in the form of a cute little harbour seal pup. Well it seems they're hanging around the area, as they've been spotted on the mudflats every day since the birth of the little one! With a cute face like that, how can you say no! We haven't had any other births yet, or any other new pups spotted, but trust us when we say we'll be keeping you updated if we do!

What will we see tomorrow? Will Kesslet resist the temptation of tasty trout up with Firth and come to play? Will she bring Charlie or Scoopy? Will we have anyone else spotted? Will we have another pup? So many questions; the only way to find out will be to keep up to date with tomorrow's post, or better yet, join us on the water! Though you may want to bring a jacket; it's set to be another wet one!

Feeling Brand New!

What A Day!

After a miserable weather day yesterday, preventing all sailings from going out for the day, it was nice to get back out on the water today! And what a day it was! Exciting, exciting news, amazing sightings, and just all round good fun with all of the local wildlife really putting on a show for our lucky passengers. 

It Finally Happened!

First, I think we should get to the good news. Amidst the wind and rain yesterday, it would seem like our first harbour seal pup of this season was born! Sitting out on the mudflats today was one of the darker females, nursing a small, miniature version of herself on her right. After so much observation on the group, it's great to see our first pup alive and well on the flats. The little one will have quite the muscles already, fighting off the strong tides buffeting the firth at the moment, but seems to be happy and healthy and feeding well. We will be keeping an eye on the others who have been around too, as it won't be long until they pop too! Can we beat last year's pup total of 4?

Our first seal pup of the seasonOur first seal pup of the season next to mum!

Kesslet and Charlie Make a Splash!

It was a great day to be out on the water for the dolphins too, with plenty of fish to be caught and fun to be had! It started at 12pm, with some hunting going on upriver and a few close encounters on the way back in between feeds. Charlie certainly knows how to get on his mum's playful side! At 2pm, some serious splashing was going on again as the gruesome twosome were hunting around again; Kesslet really putting on a show with some fantastic rushes and speedy salmon flipping to impress our passengers. She's quite the hunter! With full bellies, the pair moved out of the river at 4pm, only to be found mucking about at Meikle Mee, breaching together and surfacing in time with each other. Kesslet and Charlie's strong bond couldn't be more apparent when they are acting like that! 

Join us tomorrow and shake off those Monday Blues with a beautiful boat ride and perhaps a show from our locals like today's lucky passengers! Maybe you might be the first to set eyes on our newborns too! 

Sunshine and Seals

A Beautiful Day and Lovely Encounters

Another gorgeous, mirror-calm day out on the firth had us puffing our chests in hopeful anticipation of another successful day of sightings aboard Dolphin Spirit and Mischief. We were blessed with plenty of visits from seals - mostly harbour seals - around Alturlie Point and Meikle Mee throughout the day, which put us in good stead. The problem with seeing seals is that it tends to reflect the fact there are few or no dolphins around to disturb them, which certainly seemed to be the case. All things besides, our seals gave some excellent showings, including a spirited breach near the buoy and some up-close encounters which lasted for some time. The mothers-to-be out on the mudflats appeared in numbers from first thing in the morning - at least 2-3 of them were present on almost every sailing! But as nice as the seals are, we were certainly glad to stumble across some fins!

Pretending They're Shy!

The 12pm presented us with a great surprise; as we came back down the firth towards the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Stadium, we caught sight of some very distant dolphins! Far, far towards the shore towards the retail park, two dorsals, one pointed and one curved, peaked above the surface. Travelling in a leisurely, but still quite fast, fashion, we watched them track the coast in the opposite direction of us. At least one could be identified; the ever-identifiable Kesslet. Her companion was a bit of a mystery at that distance, but we think it may have been her son Charlie or Scoopy who was with her most likely. All three of them were later spotted at Chanonry then heading back down in our direction after 4pm, so it's certain that they were all in the area at least. We got a heads-up from the wonderful Charlie Phillips up at Chanonry that an active group of dolphins were beginning to make their way into the firth our way, but we sadly missed them if they came down this far. Hopefully they'll be a bit timelier next time!

Distant Dorsal Fin
One of the distant dorsal fins from the 12pm sailing

Found Him!

Cheeky Charlie Arrives in Style!

If you've been following our blog, you will remember that yesterday Kesslet had a different visitor with her in the Kessock Channel, Scoopy. After anticipating that Charlie must have been at Chanonry Point with the others then, and finding out that he wasn't, we could only wonder where he'd got to! Well, he couldn't have been too far away, as he turned up in the river this afternoon alongside his mum! Always the playful devil on Kesslet's shoulder, Charlie nudged his somewhat unwilling mum over to come and play with the boat as we left the marina on our 12pm sailing. As they followed us out into the Beauly Firth, they dived deeply in tandem, hunting for fish together, making their way up beyond they Caledonian Canal when we saw them last. Sadly, that would be our only sightings of the terrible two today, but the day didn't end there!

Otter Visitors

It was a strange day, being quite quiet on the passenger front. The bad weather in the middle of the afternoon may have put people off, which meant our 2pm sailing didn't run. Guide Krystyna spent the extra time sitting quayside, keeping a vigil for the dolphins and any other wildlife that may pop up in the meantime. Seems like it was a great shame that the 2pm didn't go, as there was plenty to see; plenty of swallows floating around, herons fluttering between hunting spots, and a hunting otter ducking and diving near the rocky wall, all just outside the marina! When the 4pm went out, it quietened down again, although the otter was still briefly present. But around Munlochy Bay, a red kite passed overhead, and a black throated diver popped out of nowhere right in front of the boat! We have never documented seeing one of these before, so in that regards it was quite special. Maybe it was a bit lost, straying a little away from the lochs into the saltier waters of the Moray Firth!

Dolphins, and Otters, and Seals, Oh My!

A Mighty Sightings Day!

Today started off with a little sunshine and some pleasant wind, but it quickly turned back to its usual grey with a fairly oppressive heat for most of the day. The weather certainly didn't put us off going out though, and both Dolphin Spirit and Mischief got out for all of their scheduled sailings! Both's first trips turned out quiet however, with only seals to be spotted on the dropping tide. As they day wore on however, they were in a for a treat, as some of our less spotted visitors came out to play!

Afternoon Delights

After a morning spent with a great many seals, Dolphin Spirit went out at 12pm in search of more. After watching a couple desperate seals cling onto the last remaining shred of mudflat just outside the marina, the boat made its way out under the Kessock Bridge. One passenger duly noted there was "nothing to see yet", but not to be outdone by the comment, one of our dolphins popped up out of nowhere and buzzed past the boat. Without getting a good look at the forward-facing fin, we could only assume that it had been Kesslet. With fingers crossed that she may appear again, we headed off to complete the trip. Kesslet sadly didn't turn up again, and was absent again at 2. In her place however, were two cheeky otters playing in the water just shy of the rocky harbour wall. They made for some excellent viewing, being quite active at the surface, but still enough to get a few shots of them too! We also had a different kind of visitor in the form of a red kite, spotted circling around South Kessock on our 4pm trip! Mischief's trip out towards the deeper water past Chanonry found some other hunting dolphins; roughly 6 of them were present at the point, fishing for some hefty salmon!

An otter stares at the Dolphin Spirit
A curious otter gets a good look at the Dolphin Spirit

Scoopy-doo, Where Are You?

Kesslet did eventually turn up again at 4pm, this time with her big pal Scoopy in tow. At first, we thought her companion was Charlie, as the cheeky youngster hadn't been spotted among the group at Chanonry. However, on closer inspection, we noticed that the dorsal fin was not only notched on the rear, but blotchy at the front. This meant that Kesslet had brought a different friend down to the channel for a visit; one who had managed to evade both the Spirit and Mischief on his way down here! The pair seemed quite relaxed, cruising along together very closely. We watched at they disappeared out under the Kessock Bridge and away past the ICT Stadium. Scoopy even got quite close to the boat, which is rather unusual, as when we have seen him in the past he has always been quite shy; but with Kesslet at his side, Scoopy was more than happy to give us a little hello before going off again. That leaves us with the question then of "where's Charlie?". We might just have to wait and see if we get an answer to that one!

Baby Season Begins

The First Signs of New Life!

Summer is a very exciting time for us here at Dolphin Spirit, as the Moray Firth will soon be home to lots of new little bundles of joy, and today we were lucky enough to see our first signs of it! On our 2pm sailing, our local pairing of pied wagtails came by the rocky harbour wall, calling rather loudly over the ambient noises of the boat and work going on in the harbour itself. They were not alone however; they were joined by an adorable and chunky looking fledgling, who was hopping around the rocks alongside them! The little one is pictured above. The birds are usually the first to appear with babies, though in the past this has generally been either the local mallards or swans swimming around the marina entrance and river. It was refreshing today to see this cute little youngster as our first "newborn" instead!

Kesslet Pays a Visit

Despite the falling tide all day, local dolphin Kesslet was spotted in our earlier sailings today; first near the cardinal marker, chasing another boat before coming to say hello to us, and then later around the river. As with yesterday, she seemed to catch no fish, but was particularly active and playful regardless. It's nice to see her getting back to her old self. Charlie hasn't been around the past couple of days, but he may have been further out with some of the other dolphins that Mischief has encountered recently. Today, another excitable young group joined Mischief in the afternoon out towards the Point, just after a morning of particularly bad rain. We know Charlie has been spending time with Honey and her 1 year old calf as well as some of the other youngsters, so if we get pictures back from these trips we may be able to spot our cheeky Charlie among them!

Good Things Come in Threes

Our 12pm trip was especially successful, spotting seals, an otter and Kesslet throughout the trip. All of them were in the water, with the smaller critters hanging around North Kessock's slipway. With the strong possibility that the resident otter mother is pregnant and a sighting of a heavily pregnant seal on the mudflats yesterday, it might not be long until we are seeing these little ones around the Beauly Firth!

Dolphin By The Dozen

Dolphin Mischief Joins an Excitable Pod!

It was a great day to be out on the water, and even better if you came out with us! Dolphin Spirit got to spend a bit of time with Kesslet, who was enjoying a lazy Sunday just outside the marina. She spent most of the afternoon dancing around the mouth of the river, rolling around near the surface and being nosy with the boats who were coming in and out. She wasn't very active, but it was still nice to see her enjoying her Sunday too! Mischief on the other hand was unsuccessful on her first trip of the day, only encountering the seals at Whiteness at a barren Chanonry Point zone. However, the second trip was a totally different story, with a group of around 10 dolphins to the east of Whiteness, playing and riding along with the boat for a good bit of their journey! Just goes to show that every trip is different, and you just never know what will happen one day to the next!

Sunbathing Seals

It wasn't just a glorious day for us and the dolphins though, as our local seals were spotted sunning themselves on the mudflats early this afternoon too. Two harbour seals and one female grey seal took up residence there throughout our afternoon sightings, resting just out of arm's reach of the water. One curious seal bounced up and down excitedly as we passed by, watching the boat the whole while; the passengers were just as enthralled! As we get closer to the pupping season, we'll be keeping an eye out for more seals on the mudflats, and any signs of little ones floating around the area too. There was certainly as least one very heavily pregnant female in the group we saw today, so it's only a matter of time it seems!

Seriously Snoopy Seals

A Dull Day Can't Dampen Our (Dolphin) Spirit!

It might not have been as nice weather wise today as it was yesterday, but a little bit of grey never hurt anyone (especially not if that grey is dolphin shaped!). We had a fair few grey things floating around the firth today, including Kesslet, who finally managed to see past her expanding waistline to come and see us today (seems like the dolphins' idea of a beach body is somewhat different to ours). On the 10am Dolphin Spirit sailing, Kesslet was found under the bridge for a first time in a while, traipsing about until the boat came along and gave her something to do. She gave quite the hello, getting in nice and close, before playing tease again and dashing off. There's no doubt that Charlie doesn't get his mischievous attitude from her! After a somewhat exciting day yesterday for young Charlie, however, he was a bit of a no-show today. Probably sleeping at all kinds of silly hours like the teenager he's becoming!

Sociable Seals

It wasn't just Kesslet getting up close and personal with the Dolphin Spirit today either; our sightings of seals were pretty terrific too. At 12pm and 2pm the local mum's group was out sunbathing on the mudflats, quite possibly getting ready for the pupping season with a bit of moulting. Seals will often sit out of the water for extended periods to allow their old fur to drop off, keeping them not only looking fresh, but hydrodynamic too. A few other seals were also out on the water looking for lunch, including a very curious little individual who approached the boat and stayed at surface long enough for our passengers to get a good look and a few pictures too. Grey seals tend to be the boldest when out swimming, and will follow alongside quite the thing, but our harbour seals can be just as inquisitive when they surface and will sometimes stare at the boat for long periods before diving again. Some of the younger seals have even done this with fish in their mouths, almost as if they're showing off! And speaking of showing off, we will need to keep our eyes peeled for some of the males breaching the water like dolphins! We saw it a couple of times last season, very late out of breeding season from some of the youngsters, but if there's any time for some showboating it will be now! 

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!

Finally... Rain!

Not a Phrase You Hear Often in Scotland...

Scotland is known for being a dreich (or very wet and grey), albeit beautiful, place; on average Scotland gets between 150 and 250 days of rain a year, so it's not often that you hear Scots complain when the weather is good for extended periods. However, the very dry and warm weather over the past couple of weeks has really taken its toll on the local landscape, wildlife, and people! Wildfires have been sprouting up around the Highlands due to the dry weather, some as close to home as Kilmuir and just outside of Inverness' south side. The rivers have been nearly barren of salmon as they can't get up such low water runs. Our guides have been getting sunburned! So when the heavens finally opened today and the contents of the Moray Firth (or at least, that's what it felt like) fell on top of us, it was a welcome change.

It's Raining... Fish!

With the really heavy rain, the river was running at full flow again, which became apparent at 12pm and 4pm this afternoon, when Kesslet appeared in style once again. As we approached her under the Kessock Bridge, Kesslet made an astounding, big breach out the port side of the boat, continuing to bounce up the Kessock Channel as she went off hunting for lunch. Though we didn't actually spot Kesslet with a fish herself, they were flying in all directions; our seals managed to get in on the action too! Both the harbour seals and grey seals were out to hunt, splashing around and throwing some small salmon out of the water. It's a wonder that Charlie didn't show up to enjoy the bounty, as there certainly seemed to be plenty to go around.

Dolphin Mischief Meets Mischief-Makers!

Despite the adverse weather, there was barely a breath of wind, allowing Mischief to get out on the water too this afternoon. As she trundled carefully through Chanonry, they encountered a playful group of youngsters who came to investigate; one individual even followed alongside for a while, giving our passengers the eye, before giving a quick breach out the front of the boat and dashing off into the rain. Mischief's sightings are generally quite consistent, and it sounds like the young groups, such as the Bad Boy's Club, have started to make their presence known in the firth again. Maybe we'll see more of them in the coming months; here's certainly hoping so!

Something Seal-y

Seals Return to the Marina Mudflats

Our local seals have been appearing around the Firth in greater numbers recently, but when we looked over the mudflats just outside of the marina they were nowhere to be seen! Our harbour seals (also called common seals) are known to use that spot for a little bit of mid-day sunbathing, particularly on the low tide when the mudflats are the most exposed. Their growing presence there has resulted in some lucky sightings over the past couple of years; mainly the births of a small number of pups! With summer on its way, it is soon going to be time for some of those cute little faces to reappear in the Inner Firth. Thankfully today, our local seals picked up their favoured basking spot, returning to the mudflats once more to enjoy the great weather. Keep an eye out for them on your next adventure with us!

Kesslet Keeping Quiet

Local girl Kesslet has been hanging around the harbour as usual, taking advantage of the neap tides to sneak in for a snack whenever she likes! With son Charlie off gallivanting up at Chanonry again, Kesslet has reverted to her introverted self; keeping her distance a little and focusing on food. Hopefully with the season getting into its peak soon, Kesslet will have some company to help fight off the baby blues. With sightings of many of her known social group in the area again, it is likely they will pass through to see her soon if she doesn't make the journey herself. We love to see her around of course, but can't help but think she could probably do with a little bit of company; Charlie certainly isn't being as obliging as he was last time around!  

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The forecast for the next few days predicts some much-needed rain for Inverness and much of the country. Make sure you pack a jacket! That being said, a good dose of rain might just be what the salmon run needs just now; with the neap tides there are very few fish coming in at the moment, and those that do are struggling in the low water. Maybe with a bit of a fishy frenzy on the cards, our fish-eating friends may put in a bit more of an appearance! 



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