The summer chaos has begun!
Monday 10:30 Rosemarkie bay was the place to be today! Spread out across the bay were at least 20 bottlenose dolphins. It was hard to know where to look, we frequently had dolphins pop up on both sides of the boat at the same time. Once we had spent about 15 minutes in the bay we headed up along the Black isle coastline and stumbled across a very lost Puffin! They are much more commonly seen in colonies on Staffa (an island off the west coast) or Duncansby head which is right up the top of Scotland. After a quick trip up to Navity bank we headed back down to the bay but there were no dolphins to be seen! Fortunately, we spotted them about 10 minutes later between Fort George and Chanonry point. The afternoon trip didn’t have such good luck, whilst there were plenty of seals, terns, guillemots, cormorants and jelly fish to be spotted, the dolphins had headed out of the area on the changing tide and were nowhere to be seen.
Tuesday and Wednesday both had a 100% sightings rate for our dolphins. We found dolphins on both the morning and afternoon runs despite the changing tides. We had a couple of them breaching right next to the boat and a few further out into Rosemarkie bay. (We would love to provide more detail about those couple of days but this is being written up a couple of days later and the skipper can’t even remember what he had for breakfast let alone which dolphins he saw a couple of days ago).
On Thursday 1st July we moved to 3 rib trips a day with the first leaving at 9:30 then 12:30 and the last leaving at 15:30. Thankfully the summer timetable was matched by some beautiful summer weather. Our 9:30 trip left with blue skies and calm seas and provided perfect conditions for spotting the dolphins. A group of 4 dolphins were playing in the wake of the RIB and really putting on a show with backwards and triple breaches! After spending a bit of time with them we moved away and started heading back towards home. Having not spotted any dolphins on the way out in the Inverness firth, we thought it would be a straight run home. It was a pleasant surprise then when we spotted dolphins on Skate bank (off Fortrose). The skipper hadn’t quite planned for these bonus dolphins and so the trip was a little late back- I’m sure no one on board minded at all!
For more details about the second trip see our Facebook videos!! The skipper says that was one of the best trips he’s ever done, a trio of dolphins were having a great time messing around on the left, right and straight under the boat!
At 15:30, with two skippers on the boat for the last trip of the day, all eyes were peeled. We spotted Spirtle all by herself in the middle of the channel between Rosemarkie bay and Fort George. It’s very unusual to see Spirtle all by herself, she’s normally a very sociable dolphin and can be spotted hanging around in a small group. None of her buddies were around so we left her to it and headed up the coast. By the time we passed back through Spirtle had been joined by 5 of her friends! We are convinced these dolphins know how to teleport!
Charlie Philips joined us out on the water on Friday for all 3 trips! It’s always great to be joined by an expert in the field. Unfortunately despite the beautiful conditions, on the morning trip there was not a dolphin to be found. The second trip had much better luck. Charlie spotted a group of 5 heading in from the open sea and swimming right towards us. We watched as they headed past and then half a mile away we spotted another 4 also making their way straight towards us so we stayed where we were and let the dolphins come to us. Some large dolphins in the group but none that Charlie could immediately identify. We went up to look at the grey seal colony and back down along the Black isle coast. The dolphins had pushed through Chanonry point and were playing with a yacht and wind surfer which made for some great action shots for Charlie. For the last trip the dolphin were back at what seems to be their favourite hangout at the moment-Rosemarkie bay. With a couple of breaches and some great lighting Charlie was able to get some cracking shots so be sure to check out the photos on his website or head over to his twitter using the handle @Dolphinchaz .