About the dolphins
Bottlenose dolphins are one of the best known and most loved of all dolphin species.
A small population of around 192 of these very special animals lives in Scotland’s Moray Firth. But for how much longer?
Such a small, isolated population is extremely vulnerable. These highly sentient animals, which make up the only surviving population of its kind in the North Sea, need protection from the many threats they face.
In recognition of their special status and vulnerability, in 2005 part of the Moray Firth was designated a bottlenose dolphin Special Area of Conservation (SAC) one of only two such protected areas in the UK.
Yet the SAC only covers a percentage of the area the dolphins make their home, and whilst some of the dolphins seem to spend their entire lives within the SAC, others range along the coast of the Moray Firth to Aberdeen, Tay, the Firth of Forth and possibly beyond!
We must ensure the dolphins have a future, both by protecting the SAC and the dolphins’ wider habitat, and by carefully monitoring and regulating activity that threatens these amazing animals. We can only protect the dolphins by effectively protecting their habitat!
What about the other wildlife of the Moray Firth?
The Moray Firth contains a rich diversity of marine life all year round, including European Protected Species such as harbour porpoises and otters. It is also important habitat for a number of important seabirds, harbour and grey seals and a host of seasonal visitors including vulnerable basking sharks, humpback and fin whales, as well as white-beaked and Atlantic white-sided dolphins.
Harbour porpoises are a highly protected species, and seem to be in decline in the outer Moray Firth. They are deserving of Special Areas of Conservation under European legislation, yet we have none designated for them in the UK. Minke whales, common and white-beaked dolphins and numerous other important whale and dolphin species are also found in the waters of the Moray Firth. Yet there are few, if any, protection measures provided for these species.