Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 01:11 UK

Marine mammal returns to bridge

Kessock Bridge (Pic: Iain Maclean)
Shoals of sand eels near the bridge may be attracting predators

A marine mammal not seen regularly in the sea around the Kessock Bridge at Inverness for a number of years may be making a comeback.

Charlie Phillips, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said porpoise sightings had been reported.

They were most likely preying on sand eels, he added.

The fish are also known to be food to seabirds, including common tern and gannet which have been seen from the bridge.

Mr Phillips added he had seen a bottlenose dolphin and its calf in the area in recent weeks.

The road and pedestrian crossing marks the boundaries of the Moray and Beauly firths.

Mr Phillips said: "There are possibly shoals of sand eels as gannet and common tern have also been seen diving into the water."

He said porpoise had not been seen around the bridge with any frequency for a number of years, but several have been sighted so far this year.

The mammals have smaller triangular dorsal fins than dolphins, which also make "more of a commotion" than porpoise when hunting.

Meanwhile, small groups of bottlenose dolphins have been returning to their summer haunts of Chanonry Point in the Inner Moray Firth.

Mr Phillips said: "Bigger groups of dolphins are hanging further up the coast off places like Tarbat Ness where there are more salmon and sea trout.

"This could change overnight."

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