Moray Firth in Scotland is one of the best places in the country to see
the ocean's most playful creature - the Dolphin.
Take a trip on land or
sea to watch this amazing creature.
spectacle on the Moray Firth. Photo c/o Charlie Phillips|
you don't have to be behind glass at the local Dolphin and Seal Centre near Inverness
to see them - just take a trip to Chanonry Point.
It's a spit of land protruding
into a narrow, deep channel, with a steeply shelving beach where dolphins come
in to the shallows to feed on the salmon and sea trout brought in by converging
Around 100 Dolphins live here in the cold waters of the most northerly
colony on Earth, one of only two colonies in the UK.
It's surprising that
Bottlenose Dsolphins live in this area, as they usually prefer warm to tropical
But it's not just the cold they have to overcome - their numbers
are steadily declining due to pollution and overfishing, which is destroying their
Dolphins are cetaceans, or small-toothed whales, who have rounded heads with long
snouts, sickle-shaped dorsal fins, broad flippers, blowholes and rows of short,
One of the most intelligent and sociable marine mammals, Dolphins
are often seen swimming alongside boats at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour,
jumping as high as six metres out of the water in a dramatic display.
Dolphins, characterised by their blueish-grey appearance and white belly, tend
to live in small groups of up to 12 others, called pods, which are mainly made
up of females and their young.
Sometimes a number of pods will join together
to make congregations of hundreds, where a kind of hierarchy has often been noted,
although the male of the species prefers to live alone or in a smaller pod of
just two or three.
At up to four metres long and weighing around 650 kilograms,
dolphins consume 13 to 33 pounds of food (mainly fish, squid and octopi) every
day, which they hunt using a method called echolocation.
a series of soundwaves through the water, which bounce off anything in their path,
the dolphin knows where to find its next meal.
Dolphins can dive down to
around 300 feet beneath the surface, but have to come up for air every five to
eight minutes, so echolocation saves a lot of time.
not just dolphins at Chanonry Point - visitors can also see Common Seals which
come onto the shore of nearby beaches to have their pups in winter.
as a whole is home to around 90 per cent of Britain's seal population, many of
which can be seen here at Moray Firth.
The common seal, a member of the
pinniped family, is often nicknamed a harbour seal as it is frequently found in
shallow inland waters and does not usually venture more than 20km from the shore.
around two metres long, with the male weighing up to 250 kilograms, Common Seals
are large mammals with a dark grey back and a lighter, mottled belly.
are carnivorous, opportunistic feeders, diving erratically into the water to hunt
fish, molluscs and crustaceans like squid and shellfish.
Two other good
places to see them are the Dolphin and Seal centre, just off the Kessock bridge,
and the Moray Firth Wildlife Visitor Centre at Spey Bay, the largest vegetated
shingle habitat in Scotland.
The Centre is also home to Ospreys, Otters,
wildfowl and waders.
All photography are courtesy and
copyright of landscape and wildlife photographer Charlie Phillips.