You just gotta love dolphins, right? There are numerous companies offering tours of the Moray Firth and its dolphins, but we decided to go with the highly recommended EcoVentures on the Black Isle (not far from Inverness). Located at the heart of the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation, EcoVentures offers a truly exhilarating and memorable boat trip experience & wildlife encounter.
First, you are given a short introduction to the route of the trip, safety instructions and a Q&A session. You are then given rather "sexy" (NOT!) full-body blue suits to wear over your clothes. Climb into the boat, straddle your seat, hang on and off we go!
--> This is a high speed, offshore RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) with saddle-like seats: the tour may not be suitable for frail, elderly passengers, highly pregnant women or children younger than 5 yrs.
Our tour was conducted by the company's owner/skipper Sarah, who clearly loves her job and gives great information and insight into the Moray Firth's abundant wild inhabitants.
EcoVentures is an accredited operator both with the WiSe Scheme and the Dolphin Space Programme - a local, voluntary code of conduct designed to safeguard the welfare and future of the cetaceans in the Moray Firth. This was really important to me as I wanted to go on a tour that keeps the stress to the animals at a minimum, and doesn't give chase or "hunts" the dolphins down just so the tourists can get a good photo.
The Moray Firth is home to the most northerly colony of Bottlenose Dolphins in the world, one of only two resident populations in the UK. We found it quite cute that due to these cold waters, these dolphins are all a bit "chubbier" than other dolphins :-) The dolphins here in the Moray Firth are also the largest in the world growing up to 4m in length and sometimes living for over 40 years. There are currently believed to be approx. 130 individuals within the colony, some of which are seen as far a field as St Andrews and Aberdeen.
Other animals you may spot are:
> Harbour Porpoise.
> Common and Grey Seals.
> Minke Whales.
We got some great video footage of the dolphins playfully jumping and spinning out of the water, and a mother and her calf swam right up next to our boat and looked at us curiously... what an amazing experience!
If you're an animal & nature lover and care for environmentally responsible tours, then I highly recommend EcoVentures... we've done the tour twice and really love it!
PRICES 2011: Adult £24, Children (5-12 years) £18.
As you're bound to discover (tourism gone rampant) the Moray Firth is home to a pod of bottlenose dolphins.
You can book a boat trip in the hope of seeing them, or head for the beach at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle.
We opted for the latter, as a boat trip in freezing fog (-5c) at the end of December did not appeal.
Optimum time is supposed to be on an incoming tide in the summer. We had the incoming tide, but...
Well, we lasted about 20 minutes before hypothermia started to set in (my buddy has thin Mediterranean blood, not suited to the rigours of the Black Isle in December). We did have a sighting each, but hard to tell if it was a routine porpoise or a famous dolphin. Better than nothing!
There are Dolphin-cruises out in the Moray Firth that more or less give you a guarantee for sightings. When we came sailing in the Moray Firth in a gale force 9, we didn’t stand a chance seeing any. But as we came near the entrance to the Canal at about midnight, there they where! A group of 4 or 5 came dancing in the water to greet us. I learned later that this was the bottlenose dolphin.