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Dolphin Spirit Blog

Dolphin and Marine Wildlife Boat Trips from Inverness Marina

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!

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!

 

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!  

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. 

Meet the Team - Brian

Second Super Skipper!

I know, a not very creative subtitle, but it's true! Our Meet the Team showcase continues today with our second skipper so far, Brian! Brian has been with us for the past three years as one of our main Dolphin Spirit skippers. He's a hard worker and always smiling, so our days are certainly brighter with Brian on board! When it comes to skippering, he's a dab hand at not just driving, but giving our passengers lessons too, regardless of age! He's a firm believer in everyone, and is always a bright character on the boat, and his wheelhouse door is always open! He's got keen eyes as well, and always has his binoculars at the ready; he may even give announcements of distant sightings before anyone else has even glimpsed it! Brian likes to make sure everyone knows they're in safe hands, and his safety brief is therefore more of a safety long, but he never misses anything and is super safety orientated; you couldn't be any more secure with Brian at the helm, that's for sure!

Subtly Scottish!

Don't let Brian's accent fool you - he was actually born in Elgin! A well-traveled fellow, Brian used to live "down under" back in the day, but has since returned to Scotland and his birthplace in the Highlands, where he works for us and Caley Marina down at the canal. He still retains his accent, but you might just be able to make out the Scottish undertones, giving away his heritage a bit! Brian is also incredibly knowledgeable about the local area, which gives him away a little too! Once upon a time, Brian was an occupational therapist, which certainly has helped us out a bit! Standing all day can really do a number on even our young and spirited guides, but Brian is always on hand with advice for any physical ill. He's quite the guy for jokes too, popping at least 4 into his safety brief alone and always making a few throughout the day to keep everyone grinning; passengers and colleagues alike! 

Well what can we say? Brian will certainly make sure the boat stays afloat (and not "down under"!) and will give your Dolphin Spirits a lift too! Make sure to say hello to him if he's your skipper on your next Dolphin Spirit adventure!

Showers and a Show

Getting the Timing Juuuuust... Wrong!

We had a rather lovely start to the day, with glorious sunshine for the first three sailings of the day. We weren't the only ones enjoying it either, as the seals were out sunning themselves as soon as even just an inch of mudflat became available! One of our seals has been in a bit of a predicament recently though, as it was sighted with a particularly nasty gash on its neck; perhaps in a fight with another seal, or in an accident of some kind, but it didn't seem to bother it very much all being said. We also got to watch a little bit of drama around Meikle Mee, with the terns fighting among themselves over who should sit where on the buoy; at least 8 of them were vying for top spot! With the tide dropping all through the day, at the end of the 2pm sailing, the seals were beginning to drop back into the water, almost as if they were anticipating the arrival of two finned visitors... and the storm they brought with them!

Visit from an Angel?

The heavens opened on our 4pm sailing, putting a bit of a damp mood on the end of a very quiet day all in all. That didn't deter us though, as we got out into the firth, jackets at the ready! Good thing that we did, as when we approached Kilmuir, two very active fins crossed our path. Kesslet and Charlie finally decided to grace us with their presence, Kesslet struggling with a rather small but obviously troublesome fish! As she surfed by atop the waves, mouth agape, it almost looked like she was laughing at us! Charlie on the other hand was distracting s couple of curious and hungry gulls, flapping his flukes in the air in big long dives. They moved off towards the bridge, so we left them to it, hoping to return to the area and catch them later. Luckily enough we did, encountering a cheeky Charlie, who excited us all with a fleeting dive and surface right under our noses on the left hand side of the lower deck. We watched him disappear off into the rain as we returned to the marina, hopeful for a quiet moment in the squall to dry off! A successful trip all in all!

Sunshine and Seals

A Beautiful Day and Lovely Encounters

Another gorgeous, mirror-calm day out on the firth had us puffing our chests in hopeful anticipation of another successful day of sightings aboard Dolphin Spirit and Mischief. We were blessed with plenty of visits from seals - mostly harbour seals - around Alturlie Point and Meikle Mee throughout the day, which put us in good stead. The problem with seeing seals is that it tends to reflect the fact there are few or no dolphins around to disturb them, which certainly seemed to be the case. All things besides, our seals gave some excellent showings, including a spirited breach near the buoy and some up-close encounters which lasted for some time. The mothers-to-be out on the mudflats appeared in numbers from first thing in the morning - at least 2-3 of them were present on almost every sailing! But as nice as the seals are, we were certainly glad to stumble across some fins!

Pretending They're Shy!

The 12pm presented us with a great surprise; as we came back down the firth towards the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Stadium, we caught sight of some very distant dolphins! Far, far towards the shore towards the retail park, two dorsals, one pointed and one curved, peaked above the surface. Travelling in a leisurely, but still quite fast, fashion, we watched them track the coast in the opposite direction of us. At least one could be identified; the ever-identifiable Kesslet. Her companion was a bit of a mystery at that distance, but we think it may have been her son Charlie or Scoopy who was with her most likely. All three of them were later spotted at Chanonry then heading back down in our direction after 4pm, so it's certain that they were all in the area at least. We got a heads-up from the wonderful Charlie Phillips up at Chanonry that an active group of dolphins were beginning to make their way into the firth our way, but we sadly missed them if they came down this far. Hopefully they'll be a bit timelier next time!

Distant Dorsal Fin
One of the distant dorsal fins from the 12pm sailing

Not Alone!

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat...

Mischief got out today to enjoy the rays which graced the Outer Firth this afternoon; after the forecast of heatwave conditions for the rest of the country, we here up north were understandably wondering where ours would be. We got our "heatwave" in the form of some late sunshine and 15 degree heat. It wasn't just the humans who were enjoying the lovely weather, but the dolphins too, who graced Mischief with a visit as she passed through Chanonry in the afternoon. Our relatively imposing 9.5 metre RIB was also dwarfed by a passing cruise liner leaving Invergordon in the distance; it made even Dolphin Spirit look small!

Hunting Buddies

The point was relatively quiet this afternoon, with Zephyr and calf, Moonlight and calf, Scoopy, and young Spirtle the first to arrive for a spot of hunting as the riptide formed close to the shore. Zephyr and her little one got into a little bit of animated antics, with her son breaching nice and high over her head as she spyhopped to look; it was like something out of a toddler swim class! Spirtle disappeared with a group of young friends, leaving the "nursery group" behind. Unusually, Zephyr was not the one to be catching fish today, as Moonlight had beat her to it with a fantastic salmon that she was very reluctant to show; seems like Zephyr could learn a thing or two from her about table manners! Scoopy milled around, entertaining the youngsters from time to time, travelling in and out of the rip with them by his side. Things suddenly spurred up in the distance with the arrival of Bonnie, who, in great fashion, punted a terrified and stunned salmon into the sky with a tremendous surface rush. She would later move towards the point in an attempt to find a quiet patch to swallow her catch. Keeping their distance so as not to disturb all the action going on, Mischief got to enjoy all this action in comfort. Who will you see on a trip with us?

Zephyr and calf breaching
Zephyr and her calf engaging in some cute duo acrobatics

Good Morning!

Sightings Worth Celebrating

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

Scouting Seals

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

Fathers' Day Fun!

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

Meet the Team - Stuart

The Original Super Skipper!

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

Man of Many Talents

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

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

Bouncing Baby Dolphins!

Chasing the Grey Away

The Moray Firth with plagued with some pretty horrible weather today; with a tremendous westerly wind all day and some scattered, heavy showers throughout, it wasn't exactly a day for going outside. However, that was not enough to deter our guide Krystyna (who took her usual sabbatical to Chanonry Point), or the Dolphin Mischief, who carried 4 excited and well-kitted passengers into the windy mess of waves that was the Chanonry narrows. While Mischief only arrived at 4pm (as it was the only trip the boat was able to make in the adverse conditions), Krystyna had been there from 9.50am - a good several hours before the action started - surveying the area. Scoopy had been present in the morning, hunting on his own just off the coast of Chanonry before peeling off to Fort George and away into the distance. But come 2.30pm, the most magical thing happened, and Mischief got right into the thick of it (as you can see above!).

Dolphin by the Dozen

The first to arrive at the point, unsurprisingly, was Zephyr, who went about hunting almost immediately, doing big dives and fast surface rushes as she chased fish. Her calf joined her momentarily, in the company of Charlie and a few of the boisterous males, including big Sundance! The boys went off to play, breaching and touching heads and tails, as Bonnie and her youngster arrived, adding another body to the dynamic. Bonnie spent her time in the tidal current with Zephyr, while her youngster got taught a lesson or two from Charlie and Sundance (who at several points were bashing each other over the head with their tail flukes!). The "Porridge" family was the last to join in, with Porridge and her calf, Honey and her little one, and even the sunburned Spirtle appearing too. As the ladies split off into little hunting parties, Zephyr babysitting for Porridge while she had a chance to hunt, the boys continued their madness. The breaching was continual for almost an hour, and the little one-year-olds would also get involved, playing chases with the bigger calves and Charlie. It was a fantastic scene, and even as the Dolphin Mischief drifted in, it didn't stop. In fact, the males took their chance to use the boat like a prop in a game of "I can jump higher than you"! This got Mischief a front row seat to the action that was almost a speck from the shore (if only the passengers had looked the right way! D'oh!)

Do you want to get right up close to the action; seeing wild and free dolphins play just metres from you? Be the envy of the landlubbers? Book your Dolphin Mischief experience today here!

Found Him!

Cheeky Charlie Arrives in Style!

If you've been following our blog, you will remember that yesterday Kesslet had a different visitor with her in the Kessock Channel, Scoopy. After anticipating that Charlie must have been at Chanonry Point with the others then, and finding out that he wasn't, we could only wonder where he'd got to! Well, he couldn't have been too far away, as he turned up in the river this afternoon alongside his mum! Always the playful devil on Kesslet's shoulder, Charlie nudged his somewhat unwilling mum over to come and play with the boat as we left the marina on our 12pm sailing. As they followed us out into the Beauly Firth, they dived deeply in tandem, hunting for fish together, making their way up beyond they Caledonian Canal when we saw them last. Sadly, that would be our only sightings of the terrible two today, but the day didn't end there!

Otter Visitors

It was a strange day, being quite quiet on the passenger front. The bad weather in the middle of the afternoon may have put people off, which meant our 2pm sailing didn't run. Guide Krystyna spent the extra time sitting quayside, keeping a vigil for the dolphins and any other wildlife that may pop up in the meantime. Seems like it was a great shame that the 2pm didn't go, as there was plenty to see; plenty of swallows floating around, herons fluttering between hunting spots, and a hunting otter ducking and diving near the rocky wall, all just outside the marina! When the 4pm went out, it quietened down again, although the otter was still briefly present. But around Munlochy Bay, a red kite passed overhead, and a black throated diver popped out of nowhere right in front of the boat! We have never documented seeing one of these before, so in that regards it was quite special. Maybe it was a bit lost, straying a little away from the lochs into the saltier waters of the Moray Firth!

Dolphins, and Otters, and Seals, Oh My!

A Mighty Sightings Day!

Today started off with a little sunshine and some pleasant wind, but it quickly turned back to its usual grey with a fairly oppressive heat for most of the day. The weather certainly didn't put us off going out though, and both Dolphin Spirit and Mischief got out for all of their scheduled sailings! Both's first trips turned out quiet however, with only seals to be spotted on the dropping tide. As they day wore on however, they were in a for a treat, as some of our less spotted visitors came out to play!

Afternoon Delights

After a morning spent with a great many seals, Dolphin Spirit went out at 12pm in search of more. After watching a couple desperate seals cling onto the last remaining shred of mudflat just outside the marina, the boat made its way out under the Kessock Bridge. One passenger duly noted there was "nothing to see yet", but not to be outdone by the comment, one of our dolphins popped up out of nowhere and buzzed past the boat. Without getting a good look at the forward-facing fin, we could only assume that it had been Kesslet. With fingers crossed that she may appear again, we headed off to complete the trip. Kesslet sadly didn't turn up again, and was absent again at 2. In her place however, were two cheeky otters playing in the water just shy of the rocky harbour wall. They made for some excellent viewing, being quite active at the surface, but still enough to get a few shots of them too! We also had a different kind of visitor in the form of a red kite, spotted circling around South Kessock on our 4pm trip! Mischief's trip out towards the deeper water past Chanonry found some other hunting dolphins; roughly 6 of them were present at the point, fishing for some hefty salmon!

An otter stares at the Dolphin Spirit
A curious otter gets a good look at the Dolphin Spirit

Scoopy-doo, Where Are You?

Kesslet did eventually turn up again at 4pm, this time with her big pal Scoopy in tow. At first, we thought her companion was Charlie, as the cheeky youngster hadn't been spotted among the group at Chanonry. However, on closer inspection, we noticed that the dorsal fin was not only notched on the rear, but blotchy at the front. This meant that Kesslet had brought a different friend down to the channel for a visit; one who had managed to evade both the Spirit and Mischief on his way down here! The pair seemed quite relaxed, cruising along together very closely. We watched at they disappeared out under the Kessock Bridge and away past the ICT Stadium. Scoopy even got quite close to the boat, which is rather unusual, as when we have seen him in the past he has always been quite shy; but with Kesslet at his side, Scoopy was more than happy to give us a little hello before going off again. That leaves us with the question then of "where's Charlie?". We might just have to wait and see if we get an answer to that one!

Meet the Team - James and Freya

True Team!

James and Freya are one of the real "power couples" of our Dolphin Spirit crew! Both of them are only around occasionally, with James working a new internship in Glasgow this summer, and Freya branching out into her own business, but when they are here they can take any job in their stride! James is office and shore crew, and you will have likely met him before welcoming you at the front desk or joining you on Dolphin Mischief. Freya's strength is in guiding, where she will have guided you around the Moray Firth and its wonderful wildlife; a skill she has taken even further in starting out Inverness Historical Tours, a new walking tour around the city of Inverness detailing its fascinating history and stories. 

James skippering
James "skippering" the Dolphin Spirit!

Jaunty James

Working behind the desk, James is always at ease and in his element; this really comes through when you first meet him, as he is quite laid back and relaxed, happy for a chat. This has been great for passengers who may be a little nervous, as he can put even the shakiest knees still in a heartbeat with his breezy nature. A whiz-kid when it comes to the Office package, James has set up a number of sheets and databases for us to keep track of all the comings ad goings, and even got a handle of taming the somewhat temperamental cash machine! When acting as shore support, James is timely and casual, setting up for a lovely and enjoyable Mischief experience from beginning to end. There's no doubt that with James around you're sure to start and end every trip with a chilled-out grin!

Freya the Firecracker

Freya has always been one for great ideas and bold ambitions, so of course we weren't going to keep her tied down at Dolphin Spirit for long! After guiding with us for nearly 2 whole nears, Freya took her expert guiding skills and historical knowledge with her to a whole new venture. Inverness Historical Tours has proven a hit with her customers, much the same way her excitable guiding style used to be with our passengers! You may see Freya occasionally around the office visiting, or working the odd cover shift on Dolphin Spirit when we are need of a guide in the know! You will always be able to recognise her, whether about town on her tours or in our office, with her bright hair and just as bright smile; she always brightens up a room, and will brighten up your day for sure! Make sure to check out her new venture over on her website, and maybe consider going for a wander around town with her to learn all the things about Inverness they won't tell you anywhere else! The tours start at Church Street (you can find Freya's handy maps and leaflets on Dolphin Spirit and in the office), and last around an hour. Groups are limited to only 20 at a time, so make sure you book to guarantee a spot on this exciting excursion! 

Dolphin Fashion?

River Ness Runway!

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

A Rotter of an Otter!

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

Mischief Goes Fishing with Dolphins

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

Two's Company

Kesslet and Charlie Head For the Races

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

Still No Seal Surprises

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



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