Animal Friends Blog
Here at Animal Friends being able to support animal charities around the world is such a massive privilege and plays a big part in all our roles, from customer services to our facilities team. Charity updates are shared around the departments and when possible, we invite charities to come in and showcase all the amazing work that they do so that our core value is never forgotten.
So, when the opportunity to visit Whale and Dolphin Conservation arose we jumped at the chance. The van was filled to the brim with photography equipment, the satnav was set, the itinerary memorised and we started our 11-hour drive towards the highlands from our Amesbury office.
What were we there to see?
We’ve donated to WDC in the past and will always support their hard work and focus on ending captivity, stopping whaling, creating healthy seas, preventing deaths in nets, and their vision of a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free.
So, going up to Scotland gave us a chance to see some of the work they do first-hand, and possibly even spot some whales and dolphins ourselves. We were very excited.
The first day: Burghead and a boat ride
Once we had a full night’s sleep (no thanks to the seagulls outside our hotel) we headed down to Burghead, Moray, to meet up with Katie, WDC’s Policy Officer, who would tell us all about WDC’s Shorewatch programme. We also got to meet Santi, Katie’s rescue dog, and some of the fantastic volunteers who give up their time to help with Shorewatch.
A Shorewatch volunteer is required to carry out 10-minute whale and dolphin watches and then record what they saw or didn’t see, capturing vital data about these magnificent creatures.
After some introductions and tricks and tips, we even had the privilege of conducting a Shorewatch observation ourselves, and it was as if the dolphins knew we were there.
We saw two or three pods of bottlenose dolphins travelling in different directions and generally being active, some dolphins with their calves in tow. A fin whale was also spotted further into the distance than the fast-paced pods of dolphins.
The boat ride
Once we’d finished seeing the dolphins swim past Burghead we headed to Lossiemouth to meet Charlie, WDC’s Field Officer and award-winning photographer. The three of us got on a boat with other hopeful dolphin spotters and away we went.
WDC recommend that you make sure to use a responsible boat operator when dolphin watching as boats can get quite noisy and interfere with a dolphin’s echolocation, which means they cannot communicate with each other as efficiently as they should (which can lead to distress and confusion and other serious problems). That’s why it’s now illegal to disturb whales and dolphins but they’re just as extraordinary when enjoyed from a safe distance.
We found a pod of dolphins heading towards Spey Bay, passing WDC’s Scottish Dolphin Centre, and stayed a safe distance away from them and switched the engine off while we watched them swim in the distance. We even saw some dolphins playing with seaweed, throwing it out of the water.
So that we didn’t overstay our welcome we turned around and headed towards Covesea in search of some seals.
Again, it was great to see the seals in their natural habitats, enjoying soaking up the sun as much as they could before it went into hiding again.
The second day
The second day was a lot slower-paced as we spent the day at WDC’s Scottish Dolphin Centre (SDC), at Spey Bay, with Alison Rose, Centre Manager, learning about the area and everything there was to know about dolphins. Here, there are daily walks, talks and tours as well as an opportunity to do some land-based dolphin watching so it’s well worth a visit. The shop and café offer shelter if it’s raining with things to keep the kids entertained in the interactive exhibition.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to WDC and would do it all again, even with a 12-hour drive, but we might get the train or fly next time! Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting content from our trip, as well as blogs from other charity visits.
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