This week, I have the honor of attending “Superpod 3,” an annual gathering of orca researchers and advocates from all over the world. Named for the event that occurs when multiple pods of resident orcas join together in one giant “super pod,” the human equivalent brings together people who love orcas and dedicate their lives to their welfare and protection; t
I was very fortunate to spend nearly ten hours out at sea on Friday, taking part in a dolphin photo identification survey with my friends from Aberdeen University's Lighthouse Field Station at Cromarty. The dolphins were being a bit elusive for the first part of our trip but then they found us, more and more dolphins coming into view on this lovely, sunny day - swimming wild and free, feeling the tidal currents, being with their friends and family and listening to the song of the sea as they power their way along the Firth as you can see in the photo below.
You are Whale-Come for this Poo-tiful Day! See what I did there? I was able to craft an appreciation for whales and their feces in what some would say was an incredibly clever and punny (there, I did it again) title. Perhaps the “some” would only be me, but you are still reading so I will continue…..
Well the 6 weeks holidays have kicked off here in Scotland and as I am writing this blog the sun is beating down on Spey Bay (I would love to take the office outside on the beach today!). Even the wildlife knows it is summer as the dolphins, seals and ospreys are turning up every day to give our visitors a treat. I have even caught a glimpse of the odd otter or two! Even when the real dolphins out in the Moray Firth are being quiet our visitors can spot a few special dolphins at the Scottish Dolphin Centre.
Sundance has been about quite a lot recently, nearly always in the company of Zephyr and Breeze. I came across him and Mischief together out at sea too - the two big, powerful males and buddies at the periphery of a group that had a lot of girls and youngsters in it. Big males like Sundance often prowl about, looking after territory and keeping up friendships, and being a very inquisitive species anyway - often just checking something, or someone out.
Thanks to the generosity of Sundance adopters and WDC supporters the White family - I have been out at sea on two different boat trips recently. On Monday we were out just a little North of Cromarty when we came across Rainbow and her two year old calf who were both looking great and then on Tuesday morning a bit further out to sea we came across fifteen or so dolphins that included Sundance, Mischief, Spirit and Shimmer and these two characters who thought that we needed checking out...
WDC Shorewatch is a trained network of volunteers who conduct shorewatches to monitor the presence and absence of cetaceans around the Scottish Coast. WDC Shorewatch hold a bi-annual event called Big Watch Weekend. This calls on all our shorewatchers around the Scottish Coast to get out and conduct as many watches as possible during the daylight hours.
“Revealed: whale-watching boats the greatest collision threat to whales” — this big hype headline sadly comes from The Guardian which is normally more careful about reporting. Their subhead is no better: “Guardian Australia analysis of International Whaling Commission data shows motor yachts, naval vessels and ferries come close behind.”
The migratory salmon run is picking up a little in the Inner Moray Firth and this means that as the summer goes on, progressively more dolphins move into the area to hunt - what we call a "stratified movement". In the photo below you can see Mischief throwing a huge salmon up into the air before swallowing it. I hope that I see him doing this many, many times throughout the season as a big dolphin like him takes a LOT of feeding to remain healthy.