The North of Scotland has many locations where it’s possible to spot dolphins or other marine life. However, probably the best opportunity to see the Moray Firth dolphins lies at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle. Today I’m filling you in on what to expect if you head there and tips to maximise your dolphin spotting experience. Appreciating marine wildlife is just one part of how we can all experience ‘water wellness’ during Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters 20/21.
In light of Covid-19, please stay up to date with the latest government restrictions. Chanonry Point can get very busy, so if there are no car parking spaces, please come back at another time, or consider walking from the villages of Rosemarkie or Fortrose if you are able to.
WHY DO DOLPHINS VISIT CHANONRY POINT?
Chanonry Point is a peninsula of land that extends between the villages of Fortrose and Rosemarkie. At the tip of the peninsula, there’s a very deep and narrow channel within the Moray Firth where the dolphins hunt Atlantic salmon on a rising tide, as the below video shows!
Chanonry Point is special because the dolphins do regularly come in very close to the shore, making it easier to see some action without the need of a camera or binoculars.
There is a small car park (charges apply) at Chanonry Point (SatNav postcode IV10 8SD). Please park carefully as there aren’t too many spaces and it can get easily gridlocked. Parking spaces are limited to cars only – no campervan spaces. Please respect the local area and refrain from parking on roadside verges!
There are no public toilets, the nearest ones are in Rosemarkie and Fortrose. There are lots of picnic tables and benches both on the Fortrose side looking towards Inverness, and overlooking the shingle beach looking out towards Ardesier and Fort George. There are plenty of bins in the car park, please either use them or take your rubbish home with you!
TOP TIPS FOR SPOTTING DOLPHINS AT CHANONRY POINT
CHECK THE TIDE TIMES BEFORE YOU TRAVEL!
The most common sightings of dolphins have been on a rising tide, as they hunt the channel for the salmon. It’s widely thought sightings are more likely from one hour after low tide. If you stand close to the shoreline, expect to move back regularly as the tide comes in!
HAVE HIGH HOPES, BUT LOW EXPECTATIONS!
As dolphins are wild animals, there’s absolutely no guarantee of seeing them. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t see a single fin or a tale during your visit. Half the fun is spending time outside and breathing in the fresh Scottish air, which is brilliant for general health and wellbeing. There’s always Rosemarkie beach to walk along, looking across the water to Fort George – why not do a bit of beachcombing for shells or sea glass, or do a mini beach clean?
LOOK THROUGH THE LENS, BUT DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE!
It can be easy to focus on getting that perfect shot of a dolphin breach with your smartphone or camera, but make it a priority to enjoy the chance to spot dolphins with your own eyes, rather than through a lens!
OTHER PLACES TO SPOT DOLPHINS
For a fuller guide to the Moray Dolphins, visit Moray Firth Dolphins where you can find out more about the different locations to spot dolphins.
If you want to embark on a boat trip yourself, I have enjoyed trips from Inverness, and from Cromarty. Both companies are members of the Dolphin Space programme, and are committed to providing quality trips that do not disturb marine wildlife.
If you can drop things at a moment’s notice, there is a Caithness & Moray Firth Cetacean Sightings Facebook group which is worth joining, either to see if there have been any sightings near you, or to see the photos of people who have been fortunate to catch a glimpse.