Scotland is full of wonderful wildlife havens where you can see a variety of iconic species. There’s red deer in the Galloway Forest Park, white-tailed sea eagles on the Isle of Mull, pine martens in the Cairngorms National Park and many, many more. However, if you turn your attention towards Scotland’s marine habitats and wildlife, one particular area is sure to capture your heart. With its vast array of wildlife and beautiful scenery, the Moray Firth is one of the best places in Scotland to see our oceanic residents and visitors!
But what makes it so special?
Starting near Inverness in the Highlands and extending out to the North Sea, the Moray Firth is the largest firth in Scotland (covering roughly 500 miles of coastline) and is fed by a number of rivers, the most well-known of which is arguably the River Ness which flows from the world-famous Loch Ness.
The resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth is one of the most northern colonies on Earth. As if that wasn’t enough, these dolphins are some of the largest in the world, measuring a whopping average of almost 4 m (13 ft) in length while specimens in other parts of the world are roughly 2.5 m (8.2 ft)! The difference in size is due to the higher percentage of blubber in Moray Firth’s dolphins to help combat the colder temperatures of the North Sea.
From land, Chanonry Point near Fortrose is possibly the best place to spot the wildlife of the Moray Firth. Grey seals and harbour porpoises are regular sights all year round but those smiled upon by Lady Luck will see bottlenose dolphins close to the shore and maybe an otter scurrying about on the beach! The nearby Dolphin and Seal Centre at North Kessock also has an underwater microphone which can be used to hear dolphin calls from June to September.
There are many boat charters and wildlife cruises which offer the chance to see these playful creatures up close for a truly memorable experience. You might catch a glimpse of the world’s second largest fish, the basking shark, or spot one of our frequent visitors such as the minke whale or pilot whale which are more commonly seen during the summer months.
For those unwilling to get their clothes wet, Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) opened up a new installation called the ‘Dry Dive’ at the Scottish Dolphin Centre’s historic Ice House at Spey Bay. This exciting local project is a unique audio-visual experience featuring footage obtained from the Moray Firth, showcasing the best of the region’s marine wildlife.
Visit our website to learn more about Scotland’s amazing wildlife.