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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

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!

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!

Discover The Dolphins

Meet Some of the Moray Firth's Superstar Dolphins!

Upon writing the "Meet the Team" segments, it becomes apparent that we actually haven't given you a proper introduction to the other stars of the show - the dolphins! In today's blog we will cover a few of our most spotted individuals, how we identify them, and where we find them! How many on the list have you spotted?

Kesslet

Easily our favourite local lass here at Dolphin Spirit, Kesslet has been present on our trips since day one. Arguably the easiest to identify, due to her incredibly curved dorsal fin, Kesslet is a common sight around the River Ness and Kessock Channel. At the young age of 22, Kesslet is considered to be in the prime of her life. She has had 3 calves so far, though only one of which has survived - her son Charlie. Kesslet stands out, not just in appearance but in personality, choosing to spend a lot of time hunting on her own. She is occasionally joined in her hunts and travels by Charlie or her old pal Scoopy. That being said, Kesslet is also sometimes spotted among larger groups further out towards Chanonry; groups which will normally include Charlie, Scoopy, Bonnie, and Bonnie's calf. She seems to be particularly fond of sea trout, a food which keeps her around the Inner Firth even in winter. 

Charlie

Charlie is a cheeky chappy, and we love seeing him around. Ever since Kesslet had and lost her last calf, Charlie has remained a little distant from the Kessock Channel, but often returns to check in on his mum (what a good son!). Charlie will be 10 this year, making him a sub-adult; he's not quite the age to start breeding yet, but that doesn't stop him showing off in the hopes it will get him some attention! Charlie is a member of a young male pod affectionately named "The Bad Boys' Club" who are known for their boisterous antics and acrobatic displays. Even on his own, Charlie displays these youthful behaviours, often breaching and showing off to any boat who'll let him. Charlie's social groups are particularly wide, though he is known to flirt with various mother-calf groups, including Zephyr, Bonnie, Honey and all their youngsters. Bonnie's calf and Charlie seem to have an almost brotherly-spat going on, as when they're together they are often bouncing around each other and socializing, despite a 6-or-so year gap. Charlie is quite easy to identify in a number of ways (he is pictured above). His fin is tall and slightly bent near the top, with a few newly-accentuated nicks near the top and middle. His face is very recognizable, with a band of white over his rostrum (nose) with what almost looks like little black freckles. 

Zephyr

Zephyr will most likely be seen by the Dolphin Mischief, as she is a very regular visitor to Chanonry Point. Zephyr is a mother to a couple of calves, namely Breeze and her newest youngster who is 1.5 years old and doesn't have a name yet. This youngster will often be spotted at Zephyr's side, though is becoming more independent now - often adventuring his environment and hunting tiddlers just within sight of his mum. Having been around for a while, Zephyr is very used to boats and often curious of them, though if there's salmon going you can bet that will be on her mind more than chasing boats! Zephyr is perfectly happy to hunt on her own, usually the first dolphin to arrive at the point. That being said, she will mingle with other mothers when they do arrive. She's an excellent hunter, and can easily catch 3 or 4 big salmon in a single session. Zephyr is quite easy to identify, with a slightly curved fin like Kesslet, though not as pronounced. The rear side of her fin is slightly nicked when you see it up close, and her back just under her fin has some mottled patches.

Zephyr peeking through the waves
Zephyr peeking through the waves

Scoopy

Scoopy is a bit of a social butterfly, flitting in and out the Inner Firth, possibly spotted anywhere. He has been hanging around with Kesslet for a number of years, and is thought to be just a little bit older than her, perhaps around 25 years old. Up until recently, when he was around 18 or so, Scoopy was relatively unmarked and was generally on the outside of social gatherings. These days, however, Scoopy is relatively well marked and easy to spot, with two large nicks near the middle of his fin and a number of rakes and marks around his head. He mingles in generally the same circles as Charlie would, and sometimes travels on his own. His shyness extends to how he treats boats; he's a little elusive. In the right circles he can be encouraged to get excited, but is generally quite relaxed when we've spotted him.

Bonnie

Bonnie's Aberdeen University ID is "Squat Fin", and it is easy to see why. Very easily recognizable by her short dorsal fin and generally quite petite stature, Bonnie is another of our commonly spotted individuals. She is often accompanied by her older male calf, who is around 4 years old now. In comparison to Bonnie, her calf has a very tall fin that is as of yet relatively unmarked. When they were last spotted aboard Dolphin Spirit, Bonnie's calf had a few shallow rakes on the left hand side of the dorsal fin, though those will have faded by now. Bonnie is a very sweet little dolphin, always part of a group and generally with either other mothers or the youngsters; it seems she has a bit of a nurturing side! She has been spotted right down into the Kessock Channel and out at Chanonry, so there is opportunity to spot her on any sailing, like Scoopy.

A Day Full of Dolphins

Every sailing saw dolphins!

Our resident girl Kesslet didn't disappoint our passengers today, as she was present for all four sailings! First spotted out near the canal, Kesslet bee-lined straight for the boat after clocking us over at North Kessock. She even came for a short bow-ride before leaving us to hunt; something she has been very reluctant to do since the loss of her calf. It seems that, being the big, resilient girl that she is, Kesslet is beginning to get over the sad passing of her second calf in a row and is getting on with things. 

Closure

Speaking of Kesslet's calf, our friend at the WDC, Charlie Phillips, may have stumbled upon the poor soul at Avoch beach today. On his way to work at Chanonry Point this morning, Charlie found a small dolphin among the seaweed on the beach. After 5 weeks at sea, the little body was in a poor state, but it was Charlie's opinion that is highly likely this is (or was) Kesslet's youngster. The body was recovered by the SMASS and will likely be studied by various departments. We may yet get some information about the calf, though the body was in too bad a state for a formal necropsy. For now we are simply going to wait and see what comes of this rather sad discovery. 

Weekend Fun

As some of you may know, it is childminding week this week. We are celebrating this weekend with a special childminding day on Saturday with special rates for childminders, their families, and the kids they look after. After working in the industry for many years, boss Yvette knows the struggles childminders face and the lack of appreciation they receive for the hard work they do. Along with our child-friendly and activity focused trips, there will be face painting in the afternoon to help make the day unique and specially tailored to children's groups! If you, or someone you know, is looking for the perfect day out for a childminding group, get in contact with us over the phone on 07544 800620 to book your place; spaces are filling up fast! 

Marvelous May Sightings

May Gets Off To A Splashing Start!

The start of May has brought us some brilliant weather and the Moray Firth seems to have sprung alive! We've been seeing a lot of Kesslet aboard the Dolphin Spirit, but she isn't the only visitor making our passengers "ooh" and "ahh" just now. Dolphin Mischief has been struggling with some difficult weather conditions, but when she gets out, they've been seeing a lot of two very lovely dolphins in particular, Zephyr and her young son!

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News on Kesslet's Calf

The Bad News...

Unfortunately we have some rather sad news about Kesslet's latest calf, nicknamed "Kessickle". On the afternoon of April 9th, our 4pm sailing encountered a rather sleepy Kesslet with her young calf around Meikle Mee. All seemed well then, with the youngster rather active around Kesslet as she rested after a long day hunting in the river and Kessock Channel. The next day, our locals were absent all day, which was unusual. The truly unusual thing was that, on the 11th, Kesslet returned to the River Ness with Charlie in tow. The little calf was nowhere to be seen. We kept a vigil on for a few days, still with no sightings of Kesslet's little one. After two whole weeks of a solitary Kesslet, it has officially been announced by the WDC that the calf has sadly passed on. We will never know what happened to it, unfortunately, and we are very saddened to say goodbye to such a beautiful little bundle of joy. For now, Kesslet is getting on with things, and so are we.

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Attention All Mischief Makers and Spirited Sailors

We can’t shout about it enough; 2017 is going to be the biggest and best year yet for Dolphin Spirit! Don't get us wrong, 2016 was a brilliant year; our 5-star quality assurance rating from Visit Scotland was the icing on a delicious cake made up of tremendous sightings, a whole load of new experiences, and of course, visits from our fantastic passengers! It's hard to believe 2017 is only going to be our third year!


With all that success in 2016, we are aiming for the stars with our new vessel Dolphin Mischief (I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now!). A longer experience at 2 hours a trip, Mischief is set to be a fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled race to Chanonry Point and beyond. For those who have already been aboard Dolphin Spirit, or for those looking to get their blood pumping, this is the perfect experience to see a little bit more of the glorious Moray Firth landscape, and hopefully a little more of the wildlife on offer too! Tickets for Mischief are available to book now from £32.


The Dolphin Spirit herself has had a bit of a facelift too, with a new paint job and some touch-ups to her graphics on the outside, and a furniture fix on the inside. In addition to all the big, fancy works, Dolphin Spirit now carries 5 languages on board with her new language sheets! All you need to know about the safety drills, the wildlife and the scenery is now available in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish for the new season! School groups are in for a treat too; education packs are also now available in primary and secondary levels to help make the trip a more school-friendly and educational experience. Tickets for Spirit are available to book now from £18; larger groups should contact us directly by phone or email for discounts and information on private charter.


But that’s not all! The reception area is receiving a bit of an upgrade as well! We are currently working on a project which will see the reception area equipped with new display stands for our gift shop products, as well as an upgraded snack section! Along with our hot drinks and biscuits, we are planning to also have various sandwiches and cold drinks and snacks available in our new display fridge. A lovely new slideshow will also play on the reception’s (formerly) redundant big-screen, featuring footage from our sailings from guests and guides alike.


We’ve been working really hard this winter to make 2017 really special for all our passengers, new and returning, so we hope you’re all as excited about it as we are! Meanwhile, locals Charlie and Kesslet have been enjoying their winter around the Moray Firth, poking their noses into the Beauly Firth to see us now and again. Kesslet and her brand new calf were also recently spotted in Scrabster, near Thurso, where they seemed to be enjoying some alone time on a short break! This impromptu trip is the furthest north Kesslet has ever been; talk about sightseeing!

Our season starts on the 1st of April this year, so book now and get yourself into the #DolphinSpirit or into #DolphinMischief!



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