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Bottlenose dolphins © Christopher Swann

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Really Wild Festival and Even Wilder Dolphins!

Now the season is officially underway, things are starting to get much busier here at the Scottish Dolphin Centre.  On Bank Holiday Monday we held our annual Really Wild Festival, fortunately the weather was in our favour and it was sunny blue skies all round! There were lots of different activities going on throughout the day and it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves and all the various craft and food stalls we had around the centre. There was no shortage of things for families to do including performances by a local pipe band, a refloat demonstration by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue team, a raffle, drumming workshops and wildlife wanders. Children were also spoilt for choice and could make badges or their own dolphin; some even took part in a whale race where they competed to run the length of the blue whale to see who was fastest! The face painting proved to be very popular, with many kids choosing to have a dolphin painted, although luckily for me and the children, I was only on this task for a mere half hour, which is a good thing as believe me, my dolphin face painting skills were very questionable! Unfortunately even though our bottlenose dolphins have been seen every day since the festival, they didn’t actually turn up on the day itself, although if you look at the picture below that’s not strictly true!  

 

Before the buzz of the festival, myself and Lorna (Education Officer at the Scottish Dolphin Centre) spent a week in Aberdeen, giving talks to some of the Primary School children taking part in this summer’s Wild Dolphins event! This is an exciting project involving ourselves and Wild in Art; an organisation that has previously arranged other public art displays such as this one. For 10 weeks in the streets of Aberdeen there are going to be life size bottlenose dolphin sculptures decorated by artists. At the end of August, these sculptures are then going to be auctioned off for charities. The money raised will go to both ourselves and the Archie Foundation; a children’s charity based in the Royal Aberdeen Children’s hospital that make a difference for children needing treatment and also for their families over the North of Scotland. We have been talking to children who are involved in the event, as some schools also have their own dolphin to design – a miniature version in the size of a calf! The kids were all very excited to get started and had loads of ideas that we can’t wait to see! Alongside the life size sculptures in the city centre, these smaller sculptures will be proudly on display in the libraries of Aberdeen, after which they will return to the schools that got the chance to paint them.

 

Talk to children of Dyce Primary School in Aberdeen who are taking part in the Wild Dolphins event – ©Lorna Hall

Hopefully this whole event will raise awareness of the fact that we can see bottlenose dolphins and a wide variety of other cetaceans off our coastline, as some people do not know our seas are host to so many spectacular creatures! On the day we arrived in Aberdeen we went to the harbour and watched as a few bottlenose dolphins were breaching and jumping for joy, which made for a lovely lunch break and also shows the amazing sights that are on our doorstep! What may be surprising to some is that Aberdeen Harbour is named as one of the best land – based dolphin watching sights in Scotland, as well as bottlenose dolphins who have regularly been sighted, people have also seen white – beaked dolphins here as well as the harbour porpoise. Even minke whales and the majestic Orca have been spotted by lucky individuals in the past.

 

Bottlenose dolphin off Spey Bay – ©Aimee Burrows

Here at the Scottish Dolphin Centre, we are also a dolphin watching hotspot and it’s not hard to see why! For the past nine days in a row (I’m dolphinately counting) our dolphins have turned up at Spey Bay and have often been breaching, jumping and treating visitors to a memorable experience.  Just like me our dolphins love their food and now that the fish availability is on the rise, due to the increasing number of salmon leaving and entering the river mouth to spawn; the dolphins are starting to visit more and more! On one occasion they were spotted fish – throwing which may be something they do for fun, as they are very playful creatures, but it is also thought they do this to disorientate the fish as it re-enters the water. This is so they can grab the fish head first and swallow it whole (kind of like how I inhale chocolate digestives.) I personally can’t wait to see the pod sizes get larger as the season goes on, hopefully I will get to see more mother and calves too as this is always a special sight!

 

So now the weather is getting warmer, why not have a wander down to our centre and see our wonderful wildlife and our bottlenose dolphins wild and free 🙂

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.