Bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth area can grow almost twice the size of their tropical cousins. We learned this on the fast rib out of Cromarty on a recent dolphin watching boat. The population here is holding is own with over a hundred animals. These two were fishing and just after taking this picture were seen with a 10lb + salmon.
They spent some time ‘tenderising it’ before swallowing it head first. With 3 Marine Mammal Observers in the company this was a treat, as often working from shore or on choppy waters it’s just a fleeting glimpse we get as the fin skims the water before diving. We often saw Dolphins in the mouth of the River Ness when working on the Flood Alleviation Scheme around Inverness now complete. Here we had to be watchful for dolphins coming close to the piling which could potentially damage their sensitive hearing.
The trip was complete with a slow sail past the Sutors opposite Cromarty and the bird colonies along the cliffs. Here shag, cormorant, guillemots, razorbill, kittiwake and Fulmars (seen here) are present in small numbers.
The ability of these birds to cling onto the smallest ledge and raise their single chick is impressive. Many of these seabirds are struggling nationally with a dramatic collapse in numbers breeding around our coasts. Overfishing and climate change affecting the sandeels development are likely culprits.