Page last updated at 20:19 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 21:19 UK

Large number of dolphins spotted

The dolphins were spotted in the Firth of Forth

An unusually large number of dolphins have been spotted in the Firth of Forth in recent weeks, according to reports from the Scottish Seabird Centre.

The sightings have included large pods of up to 75 dolphins.

Lynda Dalgleish from the centre said the animals had been spotted swimming alongside daily tours to Bass Rock.

They are thought to be part of the Northeast Scotland bottlenose dolphin population, usually spotted in the Moray Firth.

Ms Dalgleish said: "We have seen a marked increase in the number of sightings in the last couple of weeks with groups of dolphins swimming alongside boats and leaping and diving in the bay.

"On 30th July, between Craigleith island and the Seabird Centre, 20-30 dolphins followed the sailing dinghies taking part in the annual Solo National Sailing Championships."

'Hunting expeditions'

Kitty Wilkie, from North Berwick, said she saw about 15 dolphins as she sailed to Lamb Island.

She said: "They were awesome, doing loads of jumping, twisting and I'm sure if I'd had a ball they would have played with it."

Erich Hoyt, at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: "Their habitat is centred on the Moray Firth but some of them will travel on their hunting expeditions to the Firth of Forth and even further south."

He added: "If you see dolphins, it would be helpful if you could let us know the time, place, numbers, species, any calves, the behaviour, for example were they swimming, fishing, playing, etc.

"And if you happen to be lucky to be close enough to get a photo, the dorsal fin is the equivalent to a human thumbprint and can help us to identify the individual dolphins, who all have names."

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