💙Protection for Moray Firth Bottlenose Dolphins 💙

Multiple layers of legal protection exist for the resident dolphin population. In 2005, a substantial section of the Moray Firth was designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for the species. This sits alongside UK legislation which makes it illegal to recklessly or intentionally disturb, harm, or kill a cetacean. In 2006, Nature Scot published The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code for all watercraft users to follow, to avoid causing unintentional disturbance. On top of this is the Dolphin Space Programme (DSP), which all local boat tour operators and many local leisure craft adhere to. This code contains extra advice to protect key foraging spots, including the Chanonry Narrows, from too much watercraft activity. https://www.spanglefish.com/dolphinspaceprogramme/index.asp In 2022, officers from Whale and Dolphin Conservation and local volunteer medics from British Divers Marine Life Rescue worked together to adapt the Ullapool Sea Savers Respect & Protect campaign for the Black Isle (see photo) - another way to emphasise responsible watching. The only reason that bottlenose dolphins linger at Chanonry is to hunt. Once we reach early Autumn, they tend to favour other foraging spots and visits are normally rarer and much briefer. Protecting them across the SAC, but particularly at sites that are important foraging spots, is vitally important to their long-term survival. If you are taking a wildlife boat trip, make sure you choose an operator that is part of the WiSe scheme and is a DSP accredited operator, to ensure that dolphin welfare is a top priority.

 

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