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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

Cetaceans in the Sunshine!

The Terrible Trio Strike Again!

A glorious day all in all, with the sun shining for every single sailing that went out today! The wind from yesterday died down a little today, but there were still a few white horses to contend with, especially out in the Beauly Firth! That didn't put us, or any of the 115 passengers to join Dolphin Spirit today, off though! We all went out and had a great time, and were lucky enough to enjoy another afternoon filled with dolphins doing their thing; hunting down the salmon running up the River Ness! On which note, we had a call not too recently asking if "we were the company that feeds the dolphins"! In answer to that question, or to anyone who thinks that, NO! We absolutely do not feed the dolphins, interfere with, or track them or any of our wildlife at all! Every salmon, every trout, caught by our dolphins is just as wild as they are! So when you see pictures of dolphins with salmon hanging out their mouths (like Kesslet in the picture above), that's one the dolphins have chased down and caught themselves; and let us tell you, that's a sight to behold in and of itself! But back to today; we had the troublesome two from yesterday back in the river, Kesslet and Charlie, but they were joined a little later by big pal Scoopy, who has been sniffing around the area (and Kesslet in particular!) quite a bit recently. Lovebirds or just really good friends? We'll leave that for you to decide!

Hunting Happiness

Kesslet and Charlie were, unsurprisingly, the first to appear on the 12pm sailing, and what an entrance they made! Appearing just ahead of the boat near the ICT Stadium, they came alongside briefly before Charlie gave a cheeky little side breach behind us... right on top of Kesslet! Like a stern mother grabbing her child by the ear, Kesslet dragged her (somewhat big) baby off under the bridge and away into the river. With a laugh and smiles on our faces, we left them to it, hoping to see them again at the end. Luckily enough we did, and found they were not alone, as big Scoopy was milling around on his own too just at the mouth of the river! All three came together just in front of us, before disappearing off out again as we headed into the marina; Scoopy chomping down on his lunch as they swam up the Beauly Firth. The 2pm seemed less promising, since none of them were present or accounted for at the start of the trip! Thankfully, they reappeared and put on quite the showing with their catches right at the end, much to the delight of our patient passengers! They were still about at 4pm as well, where Charlie gave us an escort to where his mum and Scoopy were sitting just off Carnarc Point in the river. All three of them joined up when close enough again, and swam off out of the river in what was a lovely end to another 3 out of 4 dolphin day!

Troublesome Twosome!

A 3 out of 4 Day!

For the last few days we've been lucky enough to have had dolphins across the majority of our sailings! Today was no different, providing us with a dolphin-filled spectacle on 3 out of the 4 trips that went out for Dolphin Spirit, and on the only trip braving the waves with Dolphin Mischief too! The stars of today's show were the usual suspects, Kesslet and Charlie; there was no sign of big Scoopy today, strangely. Activity between the pair varied from trip to trip, with them being totally absent on the 12pm sailing despite being in the river less than 15 minutes prior to it sailing! We first spotted the pair last thing on the 10am trip, where Kesslet was milling around with a lovely big fish just off the rocky harbour wall, and Charlie was further upriver chasing his own under the watchful gaze of Mischief (who had had to return early from the 9.30am trip due to the high winds at Chanonry Point). Both boats returned to the marina, leaving the pair to join up once more, where they headed into the waves and great unknown until 2pm.

Active Hunters

Hunting Mode was definitely engaged when the pair returned down to the marina. Kesslet was the first to make her entrance with an impressive surface rush right towards us into the river. She appeared out behind us again, circling around near the harbour quayside, teasing us a little with just glimpses of her fin. She disappeared upriver for our return, but by 4pm, she and Charlie were sitting outside the marina just waiting for us! Kesslet was happy to give us a brief hello, but that wasn't enough for cheeky Charlie, who you could see just under the water circling his mum and actively pushing her over to come play. When she was having none of it, Charlie stomped off in a bit of a huff and distanced himself from Kesslet. We left them to it to go up into the Beauly Firth, but as we came back down we saw Charlie out near the cardinal marker. He gave a brief breach before chasing mum Kesslet back into the river with a spray of water in all directions! When we returned to the marina at the end of the trip they were still there, Kesslet outside the river and Charlie further up near the harbour again. Kesslet was in full predator mode, rushing the surface and giving a lovely big breach where Charlie had done his, much to the delight of the passengers who had been keeping an eye on her! Charlie, who had already caught his dinner, swam circles happily with his prize at a distance, disappearing upriver again as we headed back to our berth. All in all, another successful day with the troublesome two!

Best Day Ever?

An Afternoon of Dolphins

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

Season Record Smashed!

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

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

Making Waves!

Finding Fins

It was 2 out of 4 day for Dolphin Spirit, but so close to being a 4 out of 4! We had Kesslet and Charlie scooting around South Kessock this morning, travelling toot-sweet up the coat towards Clachnaharry. They came to briefly say hello; Charlie doing fast surface rushes towards us and under the bow as he hunted around us. A daydreaming Kesslet dondered past to follow him, and the pair disappeared out of view behind us. We kept our fingers crossed that they would hang around, and that Kesslet's taste for sea trout may have been beaten by the nudging of a salmon hungry Charlie. Sadly though, Kesslet won in the end, and the pair were absent at 12pm. Despite the lack of dolphins, the quiet allowed us a moment to admire the seal colony outside the marina, and we discovered a couple of new seal pups out there! We are now, we think, up to 4 pups in that group! We are so close to beating last year's record, currently matching it; do you think we'll see any more?

Chase Me Charlie

Luckily, the gruesome twosome would arrive back in the area, sweeping past North Kessock on their way back down the Beauly Firth. We got some fleeting glances of fins floating around the heavy waves in the riptide. We thought that may have been it, but were lucky enough to encounter them on the way back, with the addition of Scoopy in the river too. We got some nice close encounters around the river on our way back in from the two there. Guide Krystyna went up to the quayside for a quick scout out of the dolphins for the next trip, finding Scoopy and Kesslet sniffing around just at the river mouth. Kesslet came further up for a moment before it all kicked off! With a great splash, Scoopy suddenly appeared just off Carnarc Point. With another big splash, Kesslet breached quickly back to join him. Scoopy fired past with a huge salmon hanging out of his mouth! The excited pair leaped for joy at the thrill of the hunt in a lovely double breach! And then it was over, as fast as it started. The two wandered our of the river to join Charlie further out and disappeared out under the Kessock Bridge. We must have just missed them somewhere along the line on the 4pm, as they weren't moving very quick when last seen. But despite no dolphins on the 4pm, we had some breaching seals instead to steal the show. Who needs dolphins if the seals are that good at impersonating them!

Another Dolphin-tastic Day!

Bring Your Child to Work Day

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

The Mother-And-Toddler Group Makes Chanonry Their Playground

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

A Great Dolphin Day!

Dolphins All 'Round!

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

Mischief Stirs Things Up

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

Finding Mischief

A Successful Morning!

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

Teasing from a Troublesome Two!

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

Morning Madness!

A Season Record

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

 

Breaching buddies in the Kessock Channel
Breach buddies!

Special Visitors

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

A Brief Encounter

Hardy Hunters

Our sightings today were somewhat few on both boats today, and we are not entirely sure why! This morning was miserable weather-wise but certainly not on the dolphin front, with a nice sighting of Kesslet thrashing about a massive salmon as she toddled her was up the river at the very start of the trip, and again near the end too. We were briefly joined by a fleeing Charlie too, who had been actively hunting in the Kessock Channel on his own but somewhat disturbed by the arrival of two speedy Navy vessels, the HMS Biter and HMS Dasher. His flukes pointing skyward in a deep dive can just be seen in the picture above. There was a quite a bit of harbour activity and boat movement from the Clachnaharry Sea Lock, which may have spooked our locals a little bit after that, as we totally lost them for the rest of the day. We were still lucky enough to spot one of our pups piggybacking on mum, getting a lift between short swims, which was incredibly cute, and some other curious individuals throughout the day swimming alongside and getting pretty close though!

Missing on Mischief

Mischief got out twice today too, both trips heading out in the afternoon. Sadly though, there was another very quiet trip at 12.30pm, with not a fin spotted, which is very unusual at this time of year. The boat even traveled to the boundaries of our zone towards Navity near Cromarty, and still, not a thing. The seals were present again there too though, so they didn't go home empty handed at least. Hopefully the 3.30 was a bit more successful! The theory with rain normally goes that rain increases the fish activity and should therefore encourage the dolphins, but it seems that today was not our day despite the "better than average" spotting conditions. We will be keeping our eyes peeled tomorrow certainly, hoping for some nice weather again and calm seas, and hopefully more fins to be found along the way too!

Gotta Spot 'Em All!

Another Big 3 Day for Spirit AND Mischief!

What a day! Not only Dolphin Spirit have a fantastic Big 3 day (and then some!), so did Mischief! Despite the forecast, the day was dry for the most part and while enjoying the calm, we also enjoyed some great sightings of the lovely local wildlife. Sightings started literally first thing in the morning for Spirit, when Kesslet appeared just in the river with a nice big salmon within the first 5 minutes of the trip. After letting her approach us and disappear off again to dodge the incoming gull horde, we continued on into the Beauly Firth, where we encountered one of the seal pups out for a swim! That was for the most part how the morning went on, but as the afternoon wore on, our sightings only got better!

Strange Sightings at Chanonry Point!

While Spirit was making friends down in the Beauly Firth, Mischief was watching some weird and wonderful goings-on up near Chanonry Point. On approach to the Point, the boat spotted a lone dolphin having interactions with a seal. The seal, according to skipper George, wasn't too keen on its big new friend, but the dolphin was approaching with seemingly playful intent; I guess around 400kg of dolphin can be quite intimidating when it's in your face like that! Moving on, Mischief also encountered an otter at Chanonry! They also managed to spot a fair bit of dolphin activity throughout the day, with all 3 sailings going out! Skipper George is also keeping his eyes peeled for juvenile Sea Eagle which he is certain is in the Munlochy area! Next time you're out with our boats you might want to keep your eyes peeled for these so called "flying barn doors" to see if he's right!

Not a Sea Eagle But...

While Dolphin Spirit spent some extended time out near Munlochy and Alturlie Point today due to a fair amount of harbour traffic, we didn't see any sea eagles. That being said, we did have a very close flyover by a red kite passing over the firth from the Black Isle towards Culloden! In the same area we found ourselves a Charlie in the afternoon, who was initially resting near Meikle Mee before coming to see us and zipping off towards the shore with a few bouncy breaches to boot! The last sighting of note was on the 4pm trip at the last minute, where a cheeky otter appeared next to the mudflats on our way back in, swimming alongside towards a small lone rock near the harbour wall and climbing up onto its back feet to have a better look at us! A great end to an overall fantastic day!

Return of the Queen

Kesslet Joins the Hunt

A grand day to be out on the Dolphin Spirit once again, with some fantastic sunshine through the early sailings and even better sightings, managing to fit all of the "Big 3" in throughout the day! The seal group was certainly enjoying the weather, popping up near the surface often through the morning when the sun was at its best. When the clouds started to roll in again, so did Kesslet, appearing at first near Kilmuir where she was milling around for sea trout. Spotting the Dolphin Spirit, she approached with care to show off her prize; tossing and ejecting the fish in close proximity to allow our passengers a good viewing. She then hitched a ride, following the boat all the way back in towards the river, enjoying the streamlined travel from sitting under the bow while she enjoyed her lunch. She stuck around for the rest of the afternoon, around the river as usual, hunting for salmon again. She wasn't the only body floating around the river either, as the otters managed to appear last thing in the day too, completing our mammal sightings sheet for the day!

Making Mischief

Mischief has been very lucky over the past couple of days too, with some fantastic sightings caught on our new Dolphin Dashcam! From breaching babies, to bow-riding buddies, we've encountered some very playful and active individuals throughout the day on our trips. The biggest players at the moment have really been the "Porridge family" and Zephyr and youngster. Spirtle and Honey are becoming very common sights around the Chanonry Point area and beyond, with Zephyr the "Kesslet" of Chanonry, hunting there pretty much every day. Her youngster got his five minutes of fame as the first feature on our Facebook from the Dolphin Dashcam a couple of days ago, giving a cheeky little breach ahead of the boat as everyone else was having a look for his mum and travelling companions! If there's anything that can be said about the Moray Firth dolphins, it's that they certainly have a sense of humour; one which develops very early on in life it seems!

Ladies' Night!

Quite the Crowd

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

Ott-er for a Walk

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

Quiet on the Dolphin Front

The Troublesome Two Make an Appearance!

The day overall was a rather quiet one, in both weather and sightings. The quiet weather was a blessing after yesterday's hard conditions; the wind was milder than before, despite the dreary forecast, with some light rain in the afternoon. This was all fine for us, as it meant we could go out for all four sailing again, and were we glad we did. In the afternoon, our mischievous locals made themselves known to the boat, appearing together not too far from Meikle Mee on their way in to their usual hunting grounds. Unlike himself, Charlie was less focused on play and more on food, and the two were quite straightforward in their interaction with us but it was still great to see them. They must have gone their separate ways later on, as it was only Kesslet left in the river hunting alone when the boat saw her last. By the end of the day the dolphins had disappeared as quickly as they'd appeared. Sometimes it's like trying to catch mist with those two!

Adorableness to the Max

Guide Rachel started her 4-day stint today to the news that we now had two seal pups in the colony outside the marina. She was so enthused about the first, that the second will just have been double the fun! They were present pretty much all day out on those mudflats, wriggling around to get comfy and feed from the milk their mothers are providing. It won't be long now though when they get bumped off into the murky firth to feed themselves though, so they should enjoy the peace and cooing at while it lasts! No sign of the otters today to report, but plenty of bird activity, with herons along the shore enjoying a feast; including one tremendous eel caught on camera by Charlie Phillips of the WDC, who was also watching from shore this afternoon!

Watching in the Wind and Waves

Attack of the DSWs!

For those who haven't been out on a trip with us, the dreaded DSW (or Dolphin Shaped Wave) strikes most often during dolphin-watching trips on the Moray Firth on a windy day. For today, we were inundated with sightings of the DSWs, before the actual Ds (or Dolphins!) turned up in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the sighting was so fleeting of the two fins surfacing out the rear of the boat, that we could only hope to hazard a guess at who it was. But WDC Field Officer Charlie Phillips went out to investigate after getting a heads up call from us, and found the pair herding fish in an impressive display up near Bunchrew. He, too, couldn't discern an ID through the choppy waters. It was a difficult day in that regard, and a steadily increasing wind throughout the day eventually managed to cancel the 4pm Dolphin Spirit sailing and 12.30pm and 3.30pm Dolphin Mischief trips. We made the best of what we had though, with some great sightings again of our lovely seal colony and cheeky local otters.

Seal Update

Our seal colony showed well today, with 8 individuals spotted lazing around in the morning; a number which included our 2 newborns and 6 adults, including the bull of the harem. The bull has been in some competition lately, as he has a tremendous slash across his neck, but thankfully this has been healing well over the past week or so. Our pups seem to be feeding well too, with sightings of them suckling from their mothers a common thing these days. We're still keeping watch for any other youngsters, as well as keeping an eye on the main body of the colony at Redcastle, which seems to mirror numbers in our own when the shore is exposed their too. So far, as far as we've seen, our two pups are the only little ones around, so it may still be early days yet. The otter's recent spate of activity is leading us to believe there may also be the pitter-patter of tiny paws around the harbour wall soon, as cubs for her also seem to be a high probability. It's going to be a busy river mouth soon!

An Osprey A Day...

If Only!

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

Mischief Meets A Local Superstar

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

Rainy Dolphin Days

Non-Stop Fun in the Rain

With Dolphin Mischief unfortunately cancelled due to weather and essential maintenance, it was down to Dolphin Spirit to get things going! Thankfully, the poor weather didn't put our passengers off, as we had all 4 sailings head out with some very enthusiastic passengers! At 10am, we were treated to the works; as we headed out, we spotted our seals out on the mudflats, with the wind whistling through their moulting fur. This wasn't just any ordinary seal sighting though, as it was our first sighting in a couple of days of our little pup friend! As the afternoon wore on, we became aware that this little one is not alone, and another pup has been born recently, as they were sitting beside each other as their mothers chilled out in the mud! So our seal count so far for this season goes up to 2! Will we beat our record of 4 from last year?

Dining with Dolphins

Our 10am got a special treat; a chance to watch dolphins dining up close and personal! As we approached Meikle Mee we spotted a small horde of gulls forming, and shortly after saw why! Kesslet was milling around with a nice big sea trout in her mouth! She must have clocked us, as she huddled under the front of the boat to chew on her catch out of reach of the hungry gulls. We then spotted another fin coming alongside, which turned out to be Scoopy, and the two of them surfed alongside us in the wild waves. They quickly bolted off once Kesslet had swallowed her prize however, chasing a blue fishing boat passing us by and then heading out to Alturlie. We thought they might return with the turn of the tide, but unfortunately that was the last we were to see of them today. Maybe they were hiding from the rain; I hear dolphins don't like getting wet!

A Big 3 Day!

Dolphins All Day!

Well if ever you needed a cure for the midweek blues, today was it! We saw all of our big three - otters, seals, and dolphins - on 3 out of 4 trips, and were blessed with dolphins for every trip too. Only the otters failed to appear at 12pm, but it was a cracking day out on the water for sightings despite the rough, windy weather! The day started off fine, with seals out on the mudflats and wind rustling up some minor waves. As we returned from the Meikle Mee buoy near the end of the trip, who should pop up but Kesslet and Charlie, spotted by a keen-eyed passenger who glimpsed their fins among the waves. They slowly but surely were heading inward, going at a fairly relaxed pace. We left them out there and managed to spot on otter (pictured above) making its way into a dummy passage just in above the low-tide surface. It poked its head up again at the passage's exit, before bounding up onto the dry, bare rock and into a real entrance to the holt. Possibly one of our best otter sightings to date!

Sun, Sea, and Sealife!

The afternoon came on quick, and as the 12pm set out we were keen to see where Kesslet and Charlie ended up! With no sign of them in the river, we went to the Beauly Firth. They weren't there either, nor were they further out past the bridge. Perplexed, we returned to the marina again to be delighted by a huge splash from Kesslet as she hunted just up by the South Kessock side of the river. We continued to watch for a while, and were even more amazed to see young Charlie breaching with a terrific salmon that was almost a metre long! It was so big, our guide had to do a double take at her pictures to ensure it wasn't a porpoise! Charlie wandered off with his prize in his mouth to join his mum, who had sneaked further up into the river, and again, we left them to it. They stayed up there for the rest of the day, so we were lucky enough to see them at 2pm and 4pm too, with Charlie greeting the boat in his usual way, before having a porpoising match with Kesslet, the pair just skimming across the surface like stones behind us. We didn't see them at the end of the 4pm, but with the high tide and the catches that were made, it's quite safe to assume they were happy enough to go and relax elsewhere for the evening. I'd be tired too if I'd had a day like them!

Charlie with a huge salmonCharlie and his catch just upriver of the 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! 

Why Choose Dolphin Spirit?

Making The Right Choice

The Moray Firth has an abundance of wonderful wildlife, and an abundance of operators to take you to go and see it. When it comes down to choosing a tour operator for your next Moray Firth adventure, there's a few reasons why Dolphin Spirit may be your first choice. Between our 5-star credentials and a helpful, enthusiastic crew, here are just a few reasons why, if you haven't checked us out before, you may be missing out!

A Choice of Experience

Dolphin Spirit Inverness is unique in having two totally different vessels in our fleet; some operators may have multiple vessels but the boat of choice for most is the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat), which can make travel difficult or downright impossible for some. The Dolphin Spirit cruiser herself is the only large boat of her kind out on the firth, able to take passengers of all ages and abilities, including dogs! She also has a greater capacity for seating, with space for 65 to enjoy the trip comfortably. That being said, if you're feeling the pump of adrenaline when booking your trip, Dolphin Spirit's new RIB Mischief is also available. Able to take those fit enough and over the age of 12, Mischief is a longer trip, aimed at one of the biggest dolphin hotspots and one of the biggest seal hotspots in the firth to maximize sighting opportunities. Our vessels even sync in arrival back to the marina twice a day, meaning that should you wish to split your party, everyone can get what they want!

A Crew That Cares

Dolphin Spirit is headed up by well-trained skippers and knowledgeable guides who will help you to get the most out of every experience. Whether it's a school outing or a family birthday party, we are committed to delivering a fun, educational experience for all! We will happily take requests from passengers planning a special trip, and help cater to the requirements of even the most difficult groups. Our crew are trained on not just the wildlife, but customer care and child protection, and are approachable and friendly to all who hop aboard. We want everyone to enjoy a safe and memorable trip regardless of experience chosen. We also aim to be as eco- and animal-friendly as possible, adhering strictly to the Dolphin Space Program (DSP) to protect our dolphins and give them freedom of choice when it comes to interactions with us, recycling where possible, and supporting local causes which speak for our finned friends, such as the WDC.

Central to Inverness

For those visiting Inverness itself, we are the most central boat operator to the city; a short 20 minute walk from the city centre or 5 minute drive will get you to the marina. If it's miserable weather-wise (as it tends to be here!) we also provide a shuttle-bus service to and from the centre of Inverness for £2 per head, per way, or for a family of 4 for £6. For most using the service it's cheaper than a taxi, and will be there on time after every trip to get you back to town as soon as possible, or to your trip in a timely manner! How's that for service?

So when you're booking your next trip to the Highlands, why not consider going out with us? We would love to introduce you to our local wildlife (providing they're feeling sociable!) and to the wonderful stories hidden in the beautiful landscapes around us!  



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