Just under 200 bottlenose dolphins live in the Firth, and are its most famous inhabitants – though they may travel as far south the Firth of Forth and possibly beyond.
You can look for dolphins from the shore, or by taking a boat trip with a specialist guide. Boats should always follow the Dolphin Space Programme in order to avoid causing any disturbance.
Studies of the dolphins are undertaken by scientists from Aberdeen University, based in the Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty, and by observers from Whale and Dolphin Conservation at Spey Bay. As a result of this work many of the dolphins can be recognised by individual marks like fin scars and notches.
In addition to the dolphins, you may also see harbour porpoise, white-beaked dolphins and on occasion minke whales, pilot whales and basking sharks visiting the firth.
If you find a LIVE stranded whale or dolphin call British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765 546 or the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Hotline on 08707 377 722. If the animal is DEAD then contact the Scottish Marine Animals Stranding Scheme (07979 245893/01463 243030).
The dolphin population is also a great asset to the local tourism industry.
The Value of Tourism Expenditure related to the East of Scotland Bottlenose Dolphin Population, 2010.