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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

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

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

Good Morning!

Sightings Worth Celebrating

Today's morning sailings for Mischief and Spirit were very successful! The RIB of course set out first, trundling past the river and bridge and out towards Munlochy Bay. It was here that Mischief encountered our first dolphins of the day, before heading up to Chanonry in the hopes of finding more. When Spirit went out at 10am, they too spotted two dolphins near Meikle Mee; it looked like our locals had arrived nice and early for a spot of salmon for breakfast! After a spirited 4pm interaction with the boat by herself yesterday, Kesslet decided to bring Charlie along with her this time too! It's possible that both the RIB and the Cruiser got an eyeful of our gruesome twosome this morning, and as usual, they seemed very obliging. Pity was, they didn't stick around for long, disappearing up past North Kessock again to the other rivers. It seems that maybe the Ness' salmon is not doing very well, or that Kesslet has a taste for sea trout instead! Such a picky girl.

Scouting Seals

Thankfully, however, we didn't have to just rely on Kesslet and Charlie today on the cruiser; we had seals aplenty to come and say hello too! A few curious seals popped up above the surface to have a sneaky peek at the boat before disappearing again. The mudflats have also been playing home to the harbour seal mums, who just seem to be getting bigger by the day! We've been keeping an eye on the otters too, to see if they reappear. It's an exciting time for young families in the firth, that's for sure!

Fathers' Day Fun!

What better way to celebrate Fathers' Day than an exhilarating ride aboard the Dolphin Mischief? Not only will you get that glorious, white-knuckle experience, you also get the opportunity to see wildlife in all its natural state, up close and personal! It's fun for everyone (as long as they're over the age of 12 and able of course!). Forget to get pops a gift this year? Last minute it with a Mischief gift voucher for you and him to enjoy! Join us today with your dad? Send us your pictures, we'd love to see you all having a great time! 

Meet the Team - Stuart

The Original Super Skipper!

We've been through the office, we've surveyed all the guides, all we have left are the skippers! Today we're starting with Stuart, one of our longest running skippers. The only full-time skipper, working all through winter too, Stuart is a dab hand when it comes to caring for the Dolphin Spirit. Over the past three years, Stuart has got to know the boat inside and out numerous times, through engine replacements and wheelhouse refits. Whenever something needs fixing, you can be sure Stuart will have the solution! He's not just a fancy mechanical mind, but a man of humour too; his wit is so dry it would make the Sahara Desert jealous! Stuart also relief skippers Dolphin Mischief on occasion, and is beginning to build up some dolphin ID skills to rival those of our guides!

Man of Many Talents

Stuart has done many things in his time, from army service to care work, and this experience comes to the fore at Dolphin Spirit too. He has a timely manner, so much so that his safety brief is among the most streamlined of them all without missing any information to ensure we depart on time! He even manages to throw in a joke or two to lighten the mood. When it comes to visitors to his wheelhouse, Stuart is welcoming and jokey, but informative when people ask; young or old. If there's one thing that gets Stuart talking, it's questions about boats! A keen sailor himself, with his own boat, Stuart's knowledge of the route, the firth in general, and boats is pretty impressive. His word is very much trusted on the Dolphin Spirit team! One of Stuart's foibles is his borderline obsession with a clean wheelhouse; there's a place for everything and everything must be in its place! This extends to the cabin below too, where our storage is located, which is always organised as well! Whether it's a foible or boon is a matter of perspective in that respect! Stuart is a keen eye out on the cruiser and the RIB, and readily calls out sightings over the radio or to passengers directly. One of his proud moments so far this year came on one of his first RIB trips, when he returned with a big grin that he was able to identify our local dolphins away out at Chanonry Point without a guide (eek, he'll be vying for our job next!). 

You can guarantee that a trip with Stuart at the helm will not only be safe and comfortable, but fun from start to finish. Why not book aboard and come say hello?

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!

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!

Dolphin Fashion?

River Ness Runway!

This just in: the new summer fashion trend for our beautiful lady dolphins is seaweed bikinis, as shown by the lovely Kesslet as she hunted around the River Ness this morning. Sporting a delicate over-the-fin number, lovely Kesslet looked glam in the glittery morning sunshine, putting on quite the show for our passengers. In fact, Kesslet made an appearance on every single trip that went out today, not just for Dolphin Spirit, but for Dolphin Mischief too! She must have known she was looking good today! In fact, our 2pm passengers got quite the eyeful, as Kesslet did a marvelous breach just off the rocky harbour wall on our way back in; now that's what you call a welcome home!

A Rotter of an Otter!

Kesslet wasn't the only mammal on our spotting list to make an appearance today; a cheeky little otter was spotted hunting around the legs of the Kessock Bridge too! First spotted resting on the buffers of the legs, the otter immediately scarpered behind the leg and out of view when spotted and pointed out. Not one for attention then! Luckily a few eagle-eyed passengers spotted the tail wiggling into the shadows before it disappeared. A couple of curious seals were out and about today too, one just perching precariously on the mudflats in the morning as it slowly sank away in the rising tide. 

Mischief Goes Fishing with Dolphins

Mischief also got out today in the lovely weather, making their way up to Chanonry through a little drizzle to enjoy the sunshine at the point. While there they encountered a group of active hunting dolphins, but as we've seen before, bellies come first when it comes to dolphins! While they weren't overly keen to engage with the boat while they were filling up on fish, our passengers got some lovely views of them ducking and diving after salmon in the deeper waters past the point. It's always fascinating to watch them hunt, especially in a group, as they can be seen working as a team herding the fish and leaping around after them. 

Two's Company

Kesslet and Charlie Head For the Races

It's been a busy time in the Kessock Channel recently, with more fancy boats appearing and darting about. In particular, yesterday saw the Kessock Boat Race happening in the channel, which provided some new entertainment, not just for our passengers but for Kesslet and Charlie too. The mother-son duo have been around the river and channel a lot the past few days, even in the late evenings too; Kesslet was spotted getting an almost-midnight snack outside the North Kessock Hotel around 10pm! Charlie has been his usual, keen self, engaging with the boat in some nice little hellos; Kesslet is more keen on fishing, as it seems the salmon run has picked up again. Throughout the day, the pair were spotted frequently, sometimes enjoying the quiet of the marina entrance, other times further out. The last sighting of them at 2pm saw the pair taking on some sport of their own; synchronized swimming, with perfectly matched dives as they made their way out of the channel near Kilmuir. 

Still No Seal Surprises

The seals have been spotted quite frequently around the Inner Firth too, with a few more popping up on the mudflats outside the marina. As we mentioned before, there are definitely some heavily pregnant females within the group, but no little pups as of yet. Some of the more curious youngsters have been coming to the surface to check us out; some particularly brave ones sticking around long enough for everyone to have a good look too. It won't be long until they're all bouncing out of the water, and the females start to give swimming lessons to the newer members of the population. It's just a matter of when, so watch this space to find out when that is! Our otters seem to have been very much "Missing In Action" as well, though the local adult male has been spotted on the Kessock piers again after a long disappearance. Does this mean we may soon have the pitter patter of tiny paws too?

World Oceans Day

Celebrating the Sea in Style

World Oceans Day happens every year to raise awareness of the water around us, its inhabitants, what it does for us, and what we can do for it. There really is no better way to celebrate World Oceans Day (June 8th) than going out and enjoying the water with some friendly, wild, and free bottlenose dolphins! Our passengers today were lucky enough to do exactly that, getting to see Charlie and Kesslet in their natural habitat enjoying a hearty and healthy breakfast! The pair were out and hunting for some big salmon first thing in the morning, scouting out the Kessock Channel in tandem and being their usual nosy selves. With Charlie at her side for the second time in two days, Kesslet came out of her shell a little, and was happy to visit not just the Dolphin Spirit, but another special boat making its way through the channel today!

A Special Visit

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust sailing vessel was making its way past the marina this morning. The large, white and blue yacht has made a couple of regular appearances in the marina before, and today was another to add to the list. It was a special visit for them too, as Charlie and Kesslet even graced the boat with an escort in their typical fashion, with young Charlie leading the charge at the bow. There is no greater honour in the Moray Firth than a dolphin welcome! Our visitors will have been lucky enough to see the impressive boat in person too, which will have added something a little different to the spotter's sheets! The Caledonian Canal and Kessock Channel are no strangers to impressive or important boats, having seen a fair number of Navy vessels pass through recently, as well as awaiting the arrival of the Vic 32, one of the last Clyde Puffer steamboats that regularly travels around the coast in summer.  

Have you ever spotted a fancy boat while out with Dolphin Spirit (except all those nice, expensive ones sitting in the marina of course!)? We would love to see your pictures of them if you have! It's certainly not just dolphin spotting we do here!

Meet the Team - Alan

Master of Mischief

Today's Meet the Team segment features a true jack of all trades (and quickly mastering them all!), Alan! Alan started up with Dolphin Spirit for the 2017 season, with the addition of Mischief to the boat roster. He was originally intended to simply work on Mischief, but has become a core part of office staff too! He has quickly become the boat's overseeing officer; doing all the morning checks, refueling her, checking the lifejackets, signing off all the paperwork, and caring for the passengers onshore before and after their trips (phew, that's a lot to think about)! Not only that, Alan will be running around the marina most of the day when the boat is out, also helping tend to the needs of the office and Dolphin Spirit too!

Shoreside and Spirit Support!

The first time you spot Alan around the marina you might not notice him, because he will be there and gone again in a flash! First thing in the morning, once Mischief's checks are done, he will be in the office fixing up the cafe display area and restocking. Once the stock is taken care of, he will be filling the Mischief hot drinks canister in preparation for the first trip of the morning. You'll see Alan fixed in one spot for the first 10 minutes of the Dolphin Mischief experience, where he helps with the safety brief and aids passengers with clothing and lifejackets. You might realize then that Alan is a very informed fellow, and if you have any questions about the boat or the trip he is very able to put you swiftly to ease. He'll then be your guide down to the RIB before waving you off on your journey, but that's not the end of the morning's work, as Alan will swiftly be off for fuel, or to check on Dolphin Spirit, or muddle around in the office making sure everything is ship-shape! If he's not waving you off, he will be joining you on the trip; he's getting to know the dolphins around here very well, and is a dab hand with a camera! He's also great for morale, with a sense of humour that gets everyone giggling. There's never a dull moment with him about!

Next time you're waiting in the marina office for your trip, or out on Mischief, keep an eye out for the flash that is Alan and be sure to give him a wave! He'll make your next Mischief experience one you will never forget!

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!

Meet the Team - Sarah

A Lot of Bounce!

And we're not just talking about her tremendous, curly locks! Today's Meet the Team feature is about Sarah, another of the core crew members at Dolphin Spirit. Along with Jenni, Sarah is one of our full-time office staff, and has been since last year! Sarah is known for her bouncy locks and personality, making her a warm and friendly welcome to all of our passengers. When she's not working at Dolphin Spirit, Sarah has a number of other jobs that she works; she doesn't stop! Even in the office she always finds something to keep her busy; whether it's cleaning up, sorting the coffee machine, or updating the booking system with all the incoming bookings, there's never an idle moment!

Busy(ness) Bee!

Sarah is another of our "photography types" here at Dolphin Spirit, with her own business too. All of our crew portraits that you see hanging in our office behind the desk were taken by Sarah on our training days. She's not only a dab hand at portraiture, she also takes atmospheric shots for our Instagram account now and again (although the equipment she uses for this is nowhere near the setup she'd like; it's our company mobile!). When she's not being snap-happy or working the desk, Sarah also does Temple Spa nights; showcasing their range of spa-inspired body care. Her pitch and calming influence is not only perfect for getting you in the spa mood, but great for reassuring our passengers that they're in for a great time, even if the conditions look a bit scary! 

I'm On A Boat!

Sarah was one of the first people to join boss Yvette aboard the Dolphin Mischief on its maiden voyage; ever since she has been itching to hop aboard again! I suppose she certainly won't be the last to feel that way either! Whether it's photographing, inspecting, or joining the boats, Sarah is always keen to be involved with them and the dolphins too. She is even known to sneak down onto the pontoons during quiet times to snatch photos of the other boats in the marina if she spots a good photo op! As I said, there's never a quiet moment with Sarah!

Next time you pop into the office, look out for a warm smile and excited hello from Sarah; she'll make your Dolphin Spirit experience get off to a fantastic start! 

What's The Scoop(y)?

Dolphin Spirit "Regulars" Join Dolphin Mischief!

In another warm and wonderful day out on the Moray Firth, all 7 sailings scheduled for today went out to enjoy the gorgeous weather and were treated to some lovely sightings to boot! Mischief had a blast zip-zooming around Chanonry with skipper Stuart at the helm for his usual Friday shift. Several groups of dolphins were encountered throughout the day, including a spirited hunting party of a couple of regular visitors to the Inner Firth; Scoopy, Bonnie, and her calf. Bonnie even made a special visit up close, diving just under the bow of the boat and disappearing off behind to join up with the other two who were bouncing around Fort George. On the same trip, Kesslet also had a bit of a crowd going, saying hello to both Spirit and Mischief near the Meikle Mee buoy as both boats crossed paths!

Spirit Sees Double

It was double trouble today for Dolphin Spirit who encountered both Kesslet and Charlie again today - that being said, it was Charlie this time who was in the river on his own, rather than his mother! Kesslet was further out, near the calmer waters at Meikle Mee, making a bit of a splash most of the afternoon. Charlie was hunting into mid-afternoon, and possibly around to play with the huge flotilla around North Kessock today. A fair number of boats were out in the Kessock Channel for the boat race event, having poured out of the canal in the morning. This may have put Kesslet off hunting there for the day, which is why she was further out. While she is very much used to boats in the channel, Kesslet can be a little awkward with new ones at times, which was something which became apparent a couple of years back when the RNLI open day put her off the channel for a couple of days. We'll be keeping an eye on her and seeing where she ends up tomorrow, just in case!

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!

Feathered Friends?

More Than One Mouth to Feed!

Kesslet was the only dolphin we spotted out on the Dolphin Spirit today, at 12pm and 4pm. She seemed far more interested in hunting for salmon though, as she kept her distance throughout the day and only came to see us briefly as she ducked and dived into the river. She wasn't alone as she normally is however, as a horde of hungry gulls descended upon her in the hopes of picking up even the tiniest morsel of her fishy dish. While dolphin spotting, the traditional tell-tales are the blow, tail, and dorsal fin, but in times like these, a flock of famished feathered friends can normally indicate a hunting dolphin; especially if the gulls move in unison, they can normally track a dolphin that's underwater better than we can!

Bad Behaviour

When you're out on the water, you have to understand that you're technically traipsing through another animal's home. It is only right to be respectful of the wildlife of the Moray Firth when you're out sailing, regardless of the boat you're on. Around the marina there are signs indicating you should look out for dolphins, and be careful around them; they even come with guidelines on the best code of conduct. However, not everyone follows these rules, and a single selfish person can end up ruining the situation for everyone. We were witness today to a boat chasing after Kesslet, an action which seemed to make her jumpy and flighty for the rest of the day. This wasn't only just bad for our sightings, but horrible for Kesslet; she's used to boats treating her normally with respect, and she was rushed to finish or lose her fish when this boat decided to herd her upriver. If you're ever out on a boat, tour boat or otherwise, remember to be cautious of the wildlife around you; dolphins are more likely to treat you to spectacular sightings and encounters if you let them, rather than force yourself upon them. This is part of the core reasoning behind our Dolphin Space Program, and it's so simple to follow, and great for everyone. We aim to make our trips as eco- and animal-friendly as possible, so you will never see us stray from our route to chase the dolphins. You can read more about the DSP and responsible dolphin watching here.

A Bumper Dolphin Day

A New Sighting for the Dolphin Spirit!

Every day, every sailing, is different at Dolphin Spirit, as you just never know who or what may appear on each trip, and that certainly was the case today. Our 10am sailing got a real treat, with a fleeting visit from Kesslet as she darted past us at Meikle Mee (heading upriver of course, as usual), and then encountering another group of dolphins around Munlochy Bay! In this group were another two of the WDC Adopt-A-Dolphin stars, Moonlight and Mischief. Mischief (who our RIB is named after, pictured diving above) was pretty serene today, happy to just cruise alongside with Moonlight and her calf. We've had Mischief with us before, as part of another big group (made up of several members of the infamous "Bad Boys' Club") where he was active and showing off, so it was nice to see this calmer side to him too today. We've never had Moonlight with us before, so this sighting was a real surprise, made doubly special by getting to see her calf with her too! Kesslet was kind enough to make another appearance at the end of the trip too, to make up for her rude behaviour earlier!

Another Successful Trip for Dolphin Mischief!

Dolphin Mischief (the boat, not the dolphin!), also managed to get out today, and had a great time cruising up to Chanonry Point at 12.30pm. It was a very dull day weather wise, and skipper George exclaimed that the dolphins looked very menacing, as the low light made them seem jet-black in the water. They encountered another curious group up near the point, though we haven't had a chance to sit down and do any ID work yet so it could be the same group Dolphin Spirit encountered that morning. That would be very interesting though, as we're just dying to get a shot of Mischief (the dolphin!) with our Mischief (the RIB!).

If you haven't yet, you should check out our video and pictures from today's awesome 10am sailing! While you're there, Like and Follow our Facebook page to see more and keep up to date with all our exciting sightings and various other cool galleries and contests!

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!



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