Cetacean Fact Files

An incredible 27 different 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 in western Europe.

The turbid coastal waters of the outer southern Moray Firth provide important feeding areas 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 pelagic cetacean species can also 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 by the CRRU research team. Risso's dolphins and common dolphins are also recorded with increasing abundance during recent years, and white-beaked and Atlantic white-sided dolphins are highly abundant in offshore waters of the northern North Sea. At least eight other species have additionally been documented in the Moray Firth study area (from historical accounts, opportunistic sightings and incidental strandings records), including the striped dolphin, northern bottlenose whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, Cuvier's beaked whale, sperm whale, sei whale and the fin whale.

Bottlenose dolphin mother with calf
Adult humpback whale spy-hopping
Harbour porpoise checking out the research boat

Learn more about the taxonomy of the Order Cetacea HERE.

Back To Top