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Dolphins spotted in the Tay aboard new boat tour service

A new family of dolphins were seen enjoying the Tay this week aboard a new boat tour service that leaves from Broughty Ferry.

Dolphins in the Tay. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson
Dolphins in the Tay. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

As I peer into the Tay, my eyes are gifted with the sight of a baby dolphin enjoying the water with its family.

It swims alongside and beyond the boat as the rest of the pod catch fish from the water.

I’m aboard SaltDog Marine, a new boat tour service that departs from Broughty Ferry and offers passengers a new perspective of Dundee.

“You can tell by the creases,” skipper Ian Ashton tells me as he points at the mammal in the water.

“They’re called foetal folds and it’s where they’ve been curled up inside their mum.”

Ian is an expert of the ocean, equipped with fascinating facts and a friendly face.

A dolphin diving into the water. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

His sea-fari tour includes local sights and wildlife, including the V&A, Larick Beacon and oil rigs.

From this vantage point, I’m seeing Dundee in a whole new light.

On this day, the Tay is also home to a seal poking its head out of the water and dozens of birds.

However, nothing quite compares to being so close to Dundee dolphins and watching them dive in and out of the water.

Pandemic destroyed business

The former offshore worker ran Pirate Boats until the pandemic hit and left his business in ruins.

“I bought a boat which happened to be commercial,” he explained. “I decided that this has to be a business.

“I started Pirate Boats and it was very successful.

Ian Ashtondriving the boat. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

“Then the pandemic hit. You can’t social distance on a boat. Half a boat is not a business.”

Six months ago, Ian decided to start clean and seek new investments for a new business.

A group of investors from Waracle offered financial aid, while council leader John Alexander also gave his support.

The new boat is impressive, reaching speeds of 30 miles per hour and gives passengers the thrill of wind in their hair.

Ian asks for Dundee’s support

Ian describes trying to find the right boat as a “difficult process”, but says it was worth it to see the smiles on people’s faces during the experience.

The skipper travelled to Germany and towed the boat back to Scotland

Ian said: “It was a 1500 mile trip. It nearly broke me.

“I spent two days driving, one day buying, and then two days towing.

“You can imagine how that was on the Autobahn on the wrong side of the road.”

He took the Rotterdam to Hull ferry back, which included reversing the boat onto the ship.

Ian estimates that he spent around 40 hours doing Brexit paperwork.

From start to finish, setting up the new business has taken Ian six months.

“I’ve not had a day off in two months,” he said. “It’ll be worth it. I hope people like it.”

“Come along and use it so we can be here.

“We have taken the time to build up to be permanent.

“This is a good thing for Dundee.

“There’s potential with the Eden Project.

“We just need the weather and the lovely people of Dundee’s support.”

“Icing on the incredible cake that is Dundee”

Ian’s main supporters are delighted that the boat tour service is back.

Leader of the council John Alexander said: “Dundee has so many offerings for locals and tourists alike but none leaves you more awe struck than dolphins launching themselves out from the Tay.

“This is something which is best seen from the water, of course.

“I’m delighted that Salt Dog Marine are launching their offer, so that people can see the amazing natural environment that our city has.

“No other city in the UK has world class historic ships, multiple castles, the incredible V&A, a volcanic sill at its heart, an incredible natural environment and rural hinterland surrounding it and dolphins, on their doorstep.

“SaltDog are the icing on the incredible cake that is Dundee.”

Ian Ashton aboard the boat. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson

Chris Martin, on behalf of the investors, said: “This isn’t a Waracle investment per se – this is a group of ‘investors’ who were impressed by Ian’s energy and knowledge of the sea.

“Normally, we stick to technology investments because that’s what we know about – or think we do – but we were all up for something to help Ian and the tourism effort around Dundee and St Andrews.

“And, we, like everybody else love a boat trip. The boat is super cool.”

How to go on a tour

To go on the hour-long tour, the price sits at £30 for adults and £16 for kids.

Trips leave from Broughty Ferry harbour at set times.

Ian also runs a four hour trip to Perth.

It includes the UK’s largest reed beds and SSSI passing by Mugdrum Island, as well as views of Kinnoull Hill and central Perth.

In very exciting news we have now received our certification and are good to go 😀We will be putting up trips in our booking system tomorrow starting from this Friday, initially just Broughty Ferry tours then trips to Perth, Perth and Kinross shortly. This was filmed tonight about 5pm with Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve in the background. A curious Bottlenose Dolphin Calf who came to see us. Absolutely beautiful experience. Not everyone who comes out with us will see dolphins but many will. Wild creatures in their natural environment. Those that do will never forget it. You’ll also be able to see V&A Dundee from the water, Dundee Waterfront, Discovery Point and RRS Discovery, The Larick beacon, cruise ships,Oil Rigs, Wind Farm development and anything else in The Tay that day. For many a trip in our superb new boat Thunder will be enough. Guaranteed smiles. Please help us grow and Like and share our page ✅ Dundee – One City, Many DiscoveriesVisitScotlandVisitDundeeBroughty Ferry Lifeboat – RNLIBroughty Ferry CastleDundee CultureDookThe Courier UKSTV NewsBBC Scotland NewsAny media outlets that would like our HD film of this pm us🙌

Posted by SaltDog Marine on Wednesday, 19 July 2023

Ian also offers corporate days out and hopes to partner up with local businesses.

Children over seven are permitted on the boat.

Trips are not suitable for people who are pregnant or have back injuries.

Warm clothing and waterproofs should be worn depending on the weather.

To book, click here.