Highlands & Islands

Moray Firth dolphins spotted off Netherlands

Dolphin Mischief Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption A dolphin known to conservationists as Mischief has been seen off the Dutch coast

Bottlenose dolphins from Scotland's Moray Firth have been spotted off the coast of the Netherlands.

The reports of up to nine animals follows the appearance of Spirtle, another of the firth's dolphins, being seen off south west Ireland.

Scientists who monitor the animals said they were the first known sightings of the Moray Firth bottlenose dolphin population outside the UK.

The researchers are trying to confirm if the behaviour is new.

Spirtle was seen in Tralee and Brandon Bay in North Kerry in Ireland earlier this month.

Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption Spirtle has scars caused by severe sunburn

She can be easily identified by scars left by severe injuries caused by being sunburned while stranded on mudflats three years ago.

Now images taken by photographers in the Netherlands have confirmed sightings of Moray Firth dolphins off the Dutch coast.

One of the animals photographed is known as Mischief who has distinguishing markings on its body.

Image copyright University of Aberdeen
Image caption Scientists hope to discover why Moray Firth dolphins have wandered so far

Conservationists in Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands have been sharing the sightings to help University of Aberdeen scientists try to understand the behaviour.

A spokeswoman for the university's Lighthouse Field Station research site said: "Now the big questions are is this a first for this population, or do these dolphins regularly travel further than we realised?

"These sightings have only come to light because two of these dolphins, Mischief and Spirtle, have unique and unusual markings that we were able to confidently match to our catalogue."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites