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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

Anti-Social Dolphins!

Sun's Out, Fins... In?

After a downright miserable day weather-wise yesterday, it was great to get out onto the water again in glorious sunshine! With bright blue skies and emerald waters for the most part of today, you could have sworn someone had moved our office into the Mediterranean! The Moray Firth was looking her best, and with big grins spread across our faces at the sight, we were in high spirits hoping for some great sightings to round off the atmosphere... but the dolphins were MIA! Or, at least they were until the afternoon! The first trips from Spirit and Mischief both went out to little fanfare animal-wise, which had us wondering where all the party had gone! It wasn't until Mischief returned early from a distinctly empty Chanonry to scout the Beauly Firth that we found our first fins of the day! Kesslet and Scoopy were parked up past Clachnaharry, in the words of skipper John, "being very lazy". They seemed to head further up the firth too after Mischief left them to return back to the marina, because when Spirit went out again at 12, they were nowhere to be found! That had us quaking in our boots; it wasn't just the cold wind that had started to come in making us shiver!

Found You!

Luckily, the 12.30pm Mischief trip found a few more friends out past Chanonry, and Spirit's luck turned with the 2pm trip. The Beauly Firth's hottest little couple arrived back in style, heading towards the river just as the boat was leaving the river mouth past Carnarc Point. They swam at quite the speed, straight into the river and round past the harbour in a flash; but we were happy just to have them within eye's sighting distance! We caught them briefly again coming back out of the river as we were concluding the trip, where they came right under our bow and across the right hand side of the boat and off behind us. With the glare pressing on the water at that point it was difficult to spot them at a distance, and it wasn't until they were upon us that we saw them! We hoped they'd stick about for the 4pm, and thankfully they did, but in the worst place in the firth! Of all the places to find them, we found them out at Meikle Mee, where the wind was whipping up quite the tide around the buoy. We glimpsed their surfacing fins as they surfed the waves on our way out and back in too, but they certainly weren't much in the mood for saying hello today! Hopefully we'll see a little bit more of them tomorrow; maybe an early night for our dolphins will sort out their bad attitude!

New Friend?

The river was home to a strange little visitor for the best part of today! A lone harbour seal, a youngster, greeted almost every sailing that went out today straight out of the marina! Hanging about in the water just off the rocky wall, the little seal had a good old look at the boat every time it passed, and seemed to show no fear of any others in the area. At one point, he even made friends with the local otters, who scarpered when the boat arrived, but for a moment you could see the pair of them in the water quite happily next to one another! I wonder what he was doing there; maybe with the dolphins' absence, he was capitalizing on all the big tasty fish!

Wet, Wild, and Windy!

Spray Everywhere!

Between the wind and the waves, I think we ate more of the Moray Firth than we saw of it today! It wasn't exactly the most comfortable of days out on the water, but one that we made the most of nonetheless. We started our day off the right way, with sightings of Kesslet and Scoopy right up by the harbour in the river this morning; Kesslet had the remains of breakfast just hanging out of her mouth. Upon spotting them, Charlie Phillips came by for another visit, this time setting himself up on the quayside to watch. Almost as if they knew he was coming, Kesslet and Scoopy toddled away into hiding, returning around 11.35 for a bit more hunting in that part of the river. Actively shooting after the salmon just above the surface, Kesslet and Scoopy hunted in tandem for a short while before making their way out again. They were just in time to greet the Dolphin Spirit as she left the marina, and they followed alongside for a while as the boat veered into the Beauly Firth, before turning tail and heading towards the Kessock Bridge. After that, the disappeared into the descending fog for the afternoon, leaving us a little high and dolphin-less for the 2pm; but that's ok, the seals were there to pick up the slack last minute!

Adverse Weather

With the wind picking up, we tentatively went out on the 2pm and braved the waves. There wasn't a fin to be found, but with our boat's passengers 50% under the age of 15, they still had fun looking out and getting splashed by the waves streaming across the bow! At the last moment, the seals appeared too, taking advantage of the mudflats beginning to appear with the fall of the tide. They provided some aww-worthy moments, including the little female wriggling as fast as she could from the encroaching waves! The increasing wind through that trip made skipper Brian reluctant to do the 4pm trip, and with Dolphin Mischief already putting a stop to their 3.30pm, it only solidified his belief that the 4pm would not be comfortable or safe out on that water. So sadly, we only got through 3 of 4 for Dolphin Spirit and 2 out of 3 for Dolphin Mischief, but those that went out were certainly successful, so not a bad day all in all! 

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!

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!

Meet the Team - George

A Master in his Field

Keeping on the theme of Mischief skippers, we come on to the last, but certainly not the least, George! Everything going on here with Dolphin Mischief is essentially old hat for George, who has been out on the Moray Firth for 25 years! George's strengths as a skipper are not just in his excellent handling of the RIB, but also in his extensive marine knowledge. He's a keen diver, and used to dive for the Highland Council, surveying the firth, undertaking conservation projects, and even doing diving boat surveys privately! Out of all the team, George has probably come closest to our dolphins, having encountered them on dives before too. According to him, these big show-offs are actually incredibly shy once you're in their domain, and prefer to keep a distance. They will, however, ogle you incessantly until they know what you're up to! While George's main marine biology passion was in the slightly smaller aquatic life of the firth (namely nudibranchs, or sea-slugs, which he wrote a book on!), he's still incredibly excitable when it comes to encountering our bottlenoses out near Chanonry.

Oh The Places You'll Go...

George is a fascinating character, and incredibly enthusiastic about the Moray Firth and all the secrets it holds. Incidentally, George himself discovered one of these many secrets along with a few diving buddies while exploring the waters off Cromarty; a sunken submarine! The sub in question had actually gone missing from its original position, called locally as The Barge, decades prior to George discovering it. He was aiding in the recovery of a net which had entangled on something near the sandy depths, when they discovered that the net was not attached to The Barge wreck as described, but in fact the missing submarine Tantivy! Selflessly, George and co. went on to inform the MoD of their discovery and sought to buy the wreck in effort to preserve it. Many divers have since been down to see the submarine and enjoy the microhabitat it has now created for soft corals and fish, so it's just as well that it was George that found it!

George is full of exciting tales; perhaps his next book should be about his own adventures! Go on an adventure of your own with George and learn the secrets of the firth when you book aboard Dolphin Mischief!

Making Mischief!

Dolphins by the Dozen!

Dolphin Mischief had easily the best day of the two boats going out today; with the spectacularly calm and, at times, even sunny weather, it was the perfect day for a mischief-making experience! The 12.30pm trip was the first to go out, and boy was it a doozy! Not only were the lucky passengers joined by expert dolphin 'toggie Charlie Phillips, but they encountered a wonderfully active group of 12 dolphins hunting and playing around Rosemarkie Bay! The huge group of dolphins included a few well known individuals, including locals Kesslet and Charlie themselves. Others getting in on the fun included adoptable dolphin Rainbow and her son Indigo, Zephyr and son, and Moonlight's youngster! Plenty of breaching to be seen, quite close to the boat too, making for some great shots. You can see the pictures Charlie got from the RIB on our Facebook page!

A Mostly Grey Day

The sky clouded over for the afternoon shortly after the return of Mischief to the marina, with smiles all around brightening the dull day anyway! Despite the still calm conditions, the 3.30pm left today with only 2 passengers, though I'm sure they likely would have enjoyed having the boat to themselves, and hopefully catching up with that wild group further out past the point! Seals were also spotted through the day, including a particularly ravenous critter near the Meikle Mee buoy, who spent a good period of time near the surface, gnawing on a fish it had caught. It stuck around for quite some time, even while Mischief hovered about and looked on. As the month passes on we hope the weather will improve some more, and hopefully entice some more passengers to join the RIB for a trip; it seems such a shame to have people missing out when they could come aboard and see all this for themselves! If you've got a case of FOMO reading this, maybe it's time you treated yourself to a Mischief experience all your own!

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!

Meet the Team - John

From Sailboats to RIBs!

Moving on with the Meet the Team segment of the blog, we come to another of the Mischief skippers, John! Some of the more boaty folk around the marina and in the sailing community may already be familiar with John, as he headed up his own sail school before joining us! Since coming aboard Mischief, John has found himself going from teacher to student, but it won't be over-long until he's back top of the class again! He's a superb and capable skipper, and is also very communicative about what they see on the trips. He's full of questions too, always on the look out for interesting sightings and wondering what the behaviour of the dolphins means. He's taken his behavioural studies a step further, helping him to produce the most dolphin-friendly trips possible by analysing the movements of the dolphins and how they are reacting. At Dolphin Spirit, this is exactly what we love to see from our skippers, and it's been an absolute pleasure having John with us; I'm sure the passengers are enjoying his knowledge and keen attitude too!

A Retirement Hobby

Like the rest of our Mischief crew, John took up working on the RIB as something different from the work he was doing before. John has been around boats for quite some time, so for us, it was a simple choice to ask him to come aboard and thankfully he agreed! He's made great friends with the rest of the crew, and is so proactive in the job, throwing out ideas and giving feedback where possible to help us all improve the operation. Mischief's first year is a learning curve for us all, but a curve that is all taken in stride it seems! When not on the boat, John may still be found around the marina working on his boat, or out on the water enjoying some recreational time at sea. John and our previously featured skipper Gus even took a mini-break on the West coast for some R&R and practice too! 

John will guarantee you not just a fun experience, but an educational one too! Maybe he'll be skippering you on your next Mischief experience, so why not come aboard and meet him for yourself?

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!

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!

Meet the Team - Gus

Full of Enthusiasm!

Continuing on with our skipper segment of the Meet the Team showcase, we're moving onto Dolphin Mischief with today's excitable skipper Gus! Out of all the Mischief skippers he is easily the newest to the gig, but he has taken it all in his stride and learned everything that was thrown at him very quickly! Not only has he become a fantastic skipper, his knowledge of the dolphins and local area's other wildlife is gaining by the day. His records in our sightings log are some of the most detailed, and you can tell that's not just down to his great memory, but his enthusiasm and love of the job and wildlife it pertains to. Gus is a man of many skills, thankfully some of which will never have to be used with us (allowing him to relax a little post-retirement!) but always come in handy when it comes to thinking outside the box and handling tough situations!

Policing the Waters

Gus, much like one of our other skippers Ken (who has now since left for another post at Caley Marina), used to be in the police force. With that kind of knowledge about him and his tall stature, some might think Gus was a bit imposing, but he's not like that at all and any passengers who have been out with him will easily attest to that! Fun, knowledgeable and warm, Gus makes every Mischief trip with him enjoyable from start to finish. Despite his relatively short time behind the wheel, Gus has become an accomplished skipper; one who is very safe out on the water but still manages to give you that white-knuckle experience as you zip down the beautiful Moray coast. Gus really likes being involved in the job too, and despite starting out quite shy, has really opened up and become a real core part of the crew. His dedication is something else, and on quiet days with no sailings for Mischief he has even joined the Dolphin Spirit to learn more from the guides and skippers there about the dolphins, the area, and how to improve his own experience with Mischief customers. It's great to see our skippers really making the job their own! Gus also takes the Dolphin Space Program really seriously, and is very conscious of the dolphins and the sensitive areas we operate in; almost like he's swapped the police force of the land for the force of the sea!

Have you been on a trip with Gus? Have you an experience to share? We'd love to hear it! Maybe you're due on the Mischief sometime soon; if Gus is your skipper, you're sure to be in for a great time!

 

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!  

The Three Amigos

Our Big, Big Three

We're always referring to the "Big 3" here at Dolphin Spirit, in reference to the 3 mammals often spotted out on our trips; otters, seals, and of course, dolphins. Well, while we had two of three spotted today, we certainly had an altogether different Big 3 out on the water, in the form of three of our big dolphins! At 10am, we headed out of the marina to be instantly greeted by a playful Charlie, who came over to see us and give a brief bow-riding escort out of the river! He left us not too long after, but mum Kesslet was on hand to fill his place, hunting successfully out in the rough channel at North Kessock. We watched her surf the waves with grace and ease, her mouth snapping open and shut as she struggled with her catch just under the surface. We left them to it, heading out under the bridge, only to return to the marina later on and meet Kesslet again, who had a brief game of chases with us as she hunted in the river. She later had a mad moment of activity, surface rushing around the entrance to the marina chasing fish; splashing our onlooking guide in the process as she watched nearby on the quayside! With fish in mouth she headed out after son Charlie, who had been under the bridge earlier. Scoopy was spotted on his own at 12pm, clearly feeling like he was missing out as he charged through the waves by the ICT Stadium. He swept underneath our bow and disappeared off towards Kilmuir, seemingly on the chase after his friends!

A Mischievous Bunch!

Dolphin Mischief had a successful, if bumpy, day too! Dolphins were spotted on both trips out today, some frolicking and getting excited out in Fortrose Bay in the shallow waters. They bounced and breached as the RIB scooted by nearby. Another excitable group caught up with them at Fort George on the 12pm trip, joining them for a joyride out into the deeper waters of the Outer Firth. At 3.30pm, it was a more scattered affair, with hunting dolphins left, right, and centre around Chanonry Point, much to the delight of our passengers. Unfortunately due to the weather, this weekend's Mischief trips have been pulled over safety concerns with the oncoming rain and wind, but be sure to join us when the weather clears up! Dolphin Spirit should still be running as scheduled. 

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


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