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Bottlenose dolphins are robust coastal delphinids with a cosmopolitan distribution. The population in the Moray Firth represent the species at the very northern extreme of its range.

Bottlenose dolphins are robust coastal delphinids with a cosmopolitan distribution. The population in the Moray Firth represent the species at the very northern extreme of its range.

At a maximum length of 10.7m, the minke whale is the smallest member of the rorqual family of baleen (filter-feeding) whales.

At a maximum length of 10.7m, the minke whale is the smallest member of the rorqual family of baleen (filter-feeding) whales.

Common dolphins are typically social pelagic dolphins which have been seen to occur in super-groups numbering 2,000+ animals.

Common dolphins are typically social pelagic dolphins which have been seen to occur in super-groups numbering 2,000+ animals.

Cetacean fact files

An incredible 27 species of cetacean have been recorded at one time or another in the waters around Britain and Ireland. Several of these are common and widely distributed in these waters. However, the highly productive seas to the north and northwest of Scotland provide rich feeding grounds and breeding areas for the majority of these species. Twenty four of the twenty seven species listed in UK and Irish waters occur here, making this area one of the most diverse and interesting regions for whales and dolphins perhaps in the whole of western Europe.

The turbid coastal waters of the outer southern Moray Firth constitute an important habitat for many of these species. In addition to the wide-scale occurrence of “coastal” bottlenose dolphins, minke whales and harbour porpoises, inshore movements of several other “pelagic” animals can be seen during the summer and autumnal months. Killer whales, long-finned pilot whales and humpback whales, for example, have all been intermittently encountered in the Moray Firth between July and August; Risso’s dolphins and common dolphins are being seen with increasing abundance during recent years, and Atlantic white-sided and white-beaked dolphins are found in very large numbers further offshore. Plus at least eight additional species have been documented in the study area from historical accounts, opportunistic sightings and incidental strandings records including:

Striped dolphin

Northern bottlenose whale
Sowerby’s beaked whale
Cuvier's beaked whale
 

Sperm whale

Sei whale
Fin whale

To learn more about each of these species, select the appropriate links in the navigational panel, left.

To learn more about the taxonomy of the Order Cetacea, click HERE.

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