Bottlenose dolphins seen off the Fife coast by St Andrews University researchers

A dolphin seen near Tayport (photo from St Andrews University)

Bottlenose dolphins have been spotted off Fife's coast by a St Andrews University surveying team.

They were also seen in the Tay Estuary while the team have restarted their research programme.

It's after an enforced break as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Surveys of the dolphins have taken place between May and September every year since 1989 by the Sea Mammal Research Unit and Aberdeen University.

Two groups were photographed in the Tay Estuary near Tayport and another group between Crail and Anstruther.

It's part of a long-term study of the bottlenose population off the coast of eastern Scotland.

Researchers can identify individual dolphins by the nicks or notches on the trailing edge of their dorsal fin.

This allows them to estimate survival, birth rates, trends in population and to document the movements of individual animals.

Previous research has identified an expansion of the dolphins’ range from the core area in the Moray Firth back in the 1990s, where there is a designated Marine Protected Area, south to the Tay Estuary and around Fife.

In recent years, there has been an increase in sightings in the Firth of Forth and even as far south as the North East English coast this year.

New research to investigate this apparent latest range expansion is being launched this year.

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