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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

Double Trouble

The Gruesome Twosome Play Hide and Seek with Dolphin Spirit

Charlie and Kesslet came out to play today for 3 out of our 4 sailings. The weather was beautiful but hazy, making distance shooting very difficult. The dolphins seemed to use this to their advantage, moving to places where they were like shadows in the mist, or passing us by entirely. It started at 10am, when we spotted Kesslet hunting on her own in the Kessock Channel, just off of the North Kessock slipway. As we left the area, we received a message from Charlie Phillips, who had returned unsuccessful from a packed-out Chanonry Point to observe at North Kessock instead, to say that his young namesake was floating around too. At 12pm, cheeky Charlie led his mum away on a merry trout-chase, disappearing up towards Redcastle, possibly to hunt sea trout there. We didn't see either of them until the 2pm, where they came dashing past the cardinal buoy, Kesslet with a fish, and a hungry Charlie mooching along beside her as they made way towards the bridge. It must have been a busy day hunting all in all, as Kesslet was seen at 4pm rolling around on her side looking rather lazy and full. Both she and Charlie spent a good while in the calm waters near the Meikle Mee buoy, probably just letting all that big lunch go down!

Mischief Meets A Merry Bunch

Mischief had 3 sailings to do today, and they all seemed to be a success. The first morning trip was nearly full, but it sounds like the empty seats were nearly taken up by some pretty active dolphins who came to visit the boat of Chanonry Point! As the summer months start up now, it seems like Mischief is coming across these active groups more and more often, which is brilliant. Hopefully soon we will have a rough idea what and who we can come to expect up there! Why not join us to see these sprightly critters in action? With the good weather fading off into rain and cloud again soon, now is the best time to enjoy the best of the activity and the weather!

A Lesson from Kesslet

Kesslet Shares Her Skills!

Kesslet is a fantastic hunter, with more than a few skills tucked away under her pectoral fin when it comes to landing a hearty meal! She's been fishing around the harbour and Kessock Channel almost every day since the flooding rains, which must mean there's some good eating going on down by us at the moment. She has been very social with the Mischief recently too, even taking a little time out of her busy fishing schedule to teach our intrepid passengers a thing or two about salmon fishing in the Ness! As you can see in the picture above, Kesslet might be a great hunter, but she has some appalling table manners; let's just say our visitors were lucky enough to see her just after she had caught her lunch, instead of some time after, like we did a few days prior! Gross!

Things are heating up!

The sun is back and shining on the Moray Firth once more; with the great weather comes the need for more suncream! For any passengers on the Spirit or Mischief over the next while, make sure you put some on before coming out; being out on the water can make you susceptible to burning due to the reflected rays off the water's surface. Trust us, we've been there! All eyes are peeled for the possible appearance of Orca once again in the Moray Firth too, as last year they were seen this far south for the first time. Keep your eyes on the water, as you just never know who may come for a visit. Most recent rumour has put them currently at Peterhead, which would be even further south! The start of summer is always an interesting time, as you can almost never predict what will happen. All you can really do is keep your eyes peeled and your fingers crossed!

Stranger Sightings!

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!

Cheeky Charlie Visits Dolphin Spirit!

Chase Me Charlie!

What a fabulous fun-filled morning we had with resident bad boy Charlie today! It seems we may have caught him on his way out this morning as he lazed around under the Kessock Bridge, but once he spotted the Dolphin Spirit (and all its excited passengers too!), he was more than game for a little bit of fun. It started off with a roll onto his side to wave his pectoral fin at us, then a fancy headstand, sideways breach, and then a game of chases on the way back into the marina! Phew! It's tiring even just thinking about it! Some of our passengers got very close to Charlie downstairs during his antics, as he surfaced a few times just under where they were looking out for him! He left us to go back to his earlier plans as we returned into the marina, satisfied with his fun and games.

Kesslet Keeps Her Distance

Whether she was worn out already by an excitable Charlie, or just eager to get as many salmon as she could, Kesslet wasn't exactly up for playing much today. She kept her distance a little further upriver, at one point really struggling with a fish she had caught; her back arching as she attempted to regurgitate the troublesome meal. She played tease with the Dolphin Spirit, but came over to greet the Mischief as it returned from their 2 hour adventure. It was really nice to see the pair of them in the same area again, and hunting quite well by the looks.

Mischief Makes Friends at Chanonry

Mischief's travels to Chanonry today made them some new buddies! A group of youthful, playful dolphins came for a play around the boat out towards Fort George, much to the delight of the full group on board! Mischief also encountered Dolphin Spirit as she headed back in, and engaged in a little bit of showboating, zooming around the larger boat in huge circles for a photo op. Mischief really does live up to its name!

Date With a Dolphin

Kesslet gets up close and personal with our passengers!

Even if the weather has been a little bit miserable of late, there's nothing that gets us (and our passengers!) smiling more than a wonderful encounter with the Moray Firth dolphins. Today, Kesslet was in brilliant form, hunting from the falling tide into the afternoon. We saw her on 3 of our sailings today, and she was certainly showing off! It's wonderful to see Kesslet getting back to her old self, especially when she feels confident enough to engage with the boat; it really makes a trip that little bit more special when a wild dolphin comes over to see you, instead of the other way around!

Sightings of all of our "Big 3"!

The "Big 3" here at Dolphin Spirit is our dolphins, otters, and seals. Today, we saw all of them, which is fantastic! The otters were mucking around a little bit further out than usual, around the stadium of (the now relegated) Inverness Caledonian Thistle. It seemed to be two smaller, so probably female, otters who were ducking and diving their way back towards their holt (or den) around the marina. We saw more seals in the morning and early afternoon, chilling out in the waters of the Inverness Firth near Meikle Mee. One cheeky little harbour seal was spotted just off the North Kessock pier, poking his head up just as our guide was talking about keeping an eye out for them! Speak of the devil and it's sure to appear, so they say! We had plenty of sightings of terns too, some of which getting very close to the boat.

Common tern near Kilmuir
One of the Common Terns out near Kilmuir

You Should Join Us!

With the weather set to brighten up into next week, now is the perfect time to get out and enjoy a trip around the Moray Firth! There's barely a breath of wind, so if you've been waiting for the perfect time to get aboard our new Mischief RIB, you should get aboard ASAP! Dolphin Spirit has had some picture-perfect sailings over this weekend too, enjoying a little bit of sun and some very calm waters; perfect for wildlife spotting! If you're still undecided on whether you should come along, check out what you're missing over on our Facebook here!

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!

That Friday Feeling!

Dolphins Dancing in the Firth

Friday doesn't always mean the same to us at Dolphin Spirit as it means for everyone else! Normally, Friday is the start of our busy weekend period, so no resting up here! That said, it was a very quiet day in the Moray Firth in pretty much every possible way; there was nothing really going on with the weather, not many boats around, and the wildlife wasn't particularly active either. A late arrival from Kesslet changed that however, when she eventually rocked up to the party at 2pm this afternoon. The neap tides have been playing havoc with the fish, making it harder for the salmon to get through when there's only about 2 hours of fast flow from the sea. It doesn't help that the recent "good" sunny weather has made the already colossal journey even harder by lowering the water level in some of the rivers to mere trickles. For the salmon, all this hassle isn't really worth their time! Kesslet certainly had food in mind when she came to visit however, charging her way upriver to see if there was anything worth having! 

Kesslet Makes a Splash 

Always at the very last second of our trips, Kesslet likes to pull a little trick or two as a goodbye to our passengers. After spending a good little while with her out in the channel earlier on, Kesslet felt the need to give us a great big send off as she disappeared back upriver. The surprise today was a huge surface-rushing dive, sending spray everywhere, and a fantastic, huge breach just out the rear of the boat! She's been a little elusive at late, but this amazing display was enough to put a great big smile on everyone's face (even on our skipper and guide!). It was lovely to see her so active, especially with the weather being so grim and grey besides. 

Why not come aboard with us this weekend to see if you can catch up with a bouncy Kesslet? Will Charlie come and join his mum in the channel again? The only way to find out is to hop aboard and experience the Dolphin Spirit for yourself! 

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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