The number of bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth special area of conservation (SAC) off the coast of Scotland remains stable, according to a new report by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). 

SNH said that, although there is some variability in the numbers of dolphins using the SAC each year, the volume of remains stable overall.

It added that about 100 bottlenose dolphins use the Moray Firth out of a total of approximately 200 that frequent the North Sea near Scotland. Additional monitoring showed an overall increase in dolphin numbers on the east coast, SNH said. 

The research, commissioned by SNH and carried out by the University of Aberdeen, also indicated that dolphins use the SAC outside the summer months more often than was previously thought.

SNH marine policy and advice officer Morven Carruthers said: “This is great news for the dolphins and for Scotland in general. We have been monitoring dolphins in the Moray Firth SAC for many years and it has been wonderful to see stability in their numbers.”

The SSE-led 588MW Beatrice offshore wind farm is currently under construction in the Moray Firth.

The wind farm will feature Siemens Gamesa 7MW turbines and is due to be fully operational in 2019.

Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited helped finance the report.

Image: Bottlenose dolphin in the Moray Firth (Lorne Gill/SNH)