Burghead Bay is rich in wildlife, the bay being a favourite wintering ground for many seabirds such as scoter and eider, and a summer fishing ground for the spectacular osprey. Our coast is also frequented by an impressive range of sea-mammals with whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals regularly visiting the waters off Burghead. Grey seals often follow fishing boats into the harbour and in the summer, porpoises roll their backs clear of the surface as they prepare to calve in the shelter of the coast. Further out, minke whales cruise in search of tiny shrimps and shoals of small fish but it is our dolphins which make our area renowned.
The Moray Firth is home to the most northerly resident population of bottle nose dolphins in the world and the vantage point of Burghead Headland offers an unrivalled viewing position as these famous dolphins travel in search of food. Their sheer size, speed and power can be judged by the spectacular leaps and somersaults which mark their passage past the headland.
Numbering about 130, our resident bottlenoses are larger than any others in the world, measuring up to 3m (10 ft.) and weighing up to 300 kilos (5 cwts). It is probably this bulk that allows them to survive the cold waters so far north. However their survival as a viable population currently hangs on a precariously low breeding rate; only about 5 calves are born each year.
Riding on the bow waves of passing ships, they appear
to live in acceptance of human activity but sensitive and sensible conservation
measures will be necessary to ensure their survival as our coastal companions.
Pictures & Drawings © Burghead Headland Trust