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25 July, 2014

Spotting dolphins on the Isle of May

Visitors to the Isle of May National Nature Reserve are invited to take part in a whale and dolphin survey between 26 July and 3 August.

A telescope will be set up, with Isle of May staff and volunteers watching the sea and encouraging visitors to have a look and see what they can spot.

Bex Outram, the Isle of May assistant reserve manager, said:

“This is a great opportunity to be involved in whale, dolphin and porpoise research. Species that we usually get around the island are Minke whale and Harbour porpoise. And you can sometimes see Bottlenose dolphins from the boat. We will have a telescope for people to use, but you’re also welcome to bring their own.”

The annual UK-wide survey is run by the Sea Watch Foundation. Details of any sightings from the Isle of May will be collected and will help to build up a picture of how dolphins, whales and porpoises are using the seas.

It’s free to visit the nature reserve, but you must take a boat trip to reach the island. Advance booking is recommended. Sailings are on the privately-run May Princess or Osprey of Anstruther from the Anstruther Harbour or through the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick.

Anstruther - for tickets and details, see (May Princess) or (RIB Osprey).

North Berwick - For tickets and details, book online on the Scottish Seabird Centre website at or call 01620 890 202.

Known locally as 'The May', this small island sits on the edge of the Firth of Forth. The island's importance for seabirds has drawn scientists to its shores for many years and the May is home to the oldest continuously running bird observatory in the UK. The May is also a regular haunt for grey seals, often seen lounging on the shoreline rocks. This island is a historical gem and it's been a place of pilgrimage for centuries with an early island monastery. The May was also the site of Scotland's very first lighthouse, built in 1636, while the current, castle-like lighthouse was designed by the engineer Robert Stevenson.

Notes to editors

The Isle of May is one of more than 50 national nature reserves in Scotland. These are special places that look after some of the best of Scotland’s nature on behalf of everyone who lives or visits Scotland, and they provide unique opportunities to visit, enjoy and learn more about Scotland’s nature. For more information, see

Contact information

SNH Media

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig


Bottlenose dolphins: Please credit SNH/Lorne Gill.

Bottlenose dolphins

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