Praise as status report says Moray Firth dolphin population ‘stable’

Dolphin watching at Spey Bay (James A Killeen)

A report into the current status of the world’s most northerly dolphin population has included praise for organisations along the Moray Firth with the well-being of the species in mind.

While still being listed as “vulnerable” a new report has revealed that the Bottlenose Dolphin population remains “stable”.

There are around 200 bottlenose dolphins resident – a population that is vital to tourism in the region, generating around £4million each year to the economy, with the Moray Firth having been designated by the European Union as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for the species.

Now a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) interim report suggests that the resident dolphin population has remained stable for the last 25 years. SNH are tasked with updating the status of the dolphin population every six years – they are next due to do so in 2018 but have published an interim update.

The report states that 102 individual dolphins used the SAC in the summer of 2011, rising to 112 the following year before falling again to 93 in 2013. It adds that the long-term trends appear to indicate stability but that the population remains vulnerable.

Morven Carruthers from the SNH’s marine team said: “Dolphins in the Moray Firth SAC have been the focus of intense research for many years now and over the time the numbers using the SAC appear to remain stable.

“This is great news and a tribute to the people, organisations and relevant authorities around the Moray Firth who have worked to manage the many activities on the busy firth with the dolphin’s well-being in mind.

“Of course, it is important that we all continue to work together as the population remains vulnerable.”

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