The Moray Firth is home to the most northerly colony of Bottlenose Dolphins in the world and this is one of only two resident populations in the UK. The most recent population studies seem to indicate a stable or very slightly increasing population with numbers recently revised from 130 individuals in the colony to approximately 200.
Although basically resident, these animals are free to roam and some of the dolphins we see off Cromarty have been tracked as far afield as St Andrews and Aberdeen.
The Moray Firth dolphins are also rather unique in that they are the largest Bottlenose Dolphins you will see anywhere in the world, growing to 4m in length and weighing up to 350kg. It is often only when you see them breach clear of the water that you get a true sense of their size and power. By nature they tend to be rather inquisitive, boisterous animals, often approaching the boat for a closer look at us – it just depends what they are doing and what individuals are in the group. Each and every encounter we have with them is different. At times they can be very active, breaching and bowriding or we may see them at a distance resting and enjoying a bit of socialising within their group. Or they may be intent on travelling elsewhere and hunting down their next prey. Whatever they are doing, to be able to watch them frolic, hunt and play, wild and free as they should be is a privilege that we never tire of.
During the summer months we are often lucky enough to see the first calves of the year. Born at just over a metre in length, these little ones will stay close to their mother for the first few years of life and like any young are often the most playful and curious within the group.
Typically an adult dolphin will live to about 40 years of age and certain individuals are very recognisable due to nicks and scratches on the dorsal fins. Most of the animals we see regularly have been catalogued and photographed by a team from Aberdeen University, who are based at the Lighthouse Field Station, also in Cromarty. If you have ‘Adopted a Dolphin’, through the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) scheme please let us know when you book and we will keep a special eye out for your dolphin on the trip!