Rare sighting of dolphins

Andrew Smith, a skipper for Billy Shiel's Glad Tidings III, took this photo of bottlenose dolphins off the Farne Islands on Saturday.
Andrew Smith, a skipper for Billy Shiel's Glad Tidings III, took this photo of bottlenose dolphins off the Farne Islands on Saturday.

A boat-trip skipper captured a rare sighting of bottlenose dolphins on the north Northumberland coast this week.

Andrew Smith, skipper for wildlife boat operator Farne Island Boat Trips, was out on Glad Tidings III on Saturday and again on Monday when he spotted around 15 bottlenose dolphins swimming north between the Farne Islands and Seahouses.

He said: “They were a fantastic sight. Usually we just see harbour porpoise.

“Last year there were just two sightings in the whole of the year of bottlenose dolphins in this area , and that was in July.

“This year, we have already seen them twice , and on May 1 we saw a minke whale heading south from Seahouses harbour.”

Farne Island Boat Trips submits sightings data to the marine research and conservation charity Sea Watch Foundation.

Sightings officer Danielle Gibas said: “Bottlenose dolphins can be spotted across much of the east coast of Scotland from the Moray Firth (and its world-renowned Chanonry Point) to Aberdeen (the UK’s cetacean city) and the Firth of Tay.

“It is very rare for these animals to venture further south, which is what makes this sighting particularly interesting.

“They will most probably have been following prey into the area, but we can’t be sure.

“With much of the summer still to come, we can only hope for more sightings, which might help us shed light on these animals’ movements.”

Farne Island Boat Trips will be taking part in National Whale and Dolphin Watch from July 27 to August 3 when they will be asking passengers who want to get involved to help collect species data during their daily trips.

Details of how to join a Farne Islands boat trip and other National Whale and Dolphin Watch events around the country are available at www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk

Any sightings from the trips will then be added to other land and sea-watch data from around the country by the Sea Watch Foundation.

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