By Donald Wilson
Published: 30 December, 2010
Moray Firth dolphins are being used to lure people away from Loch Ness by claiming Nessie doesn't exist.CHEEKY tourist bosses in Banff are trying to lure Loch Ness monster spotters away from the Highlands to watch dolphins playing in the Moray Firth - by claiming Nessie doesn't exist.And the comments have already caused a stir around the waters of Britain's biggest freshwater loch with the president of Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, Gary Campbell, saying they are shooting themselves in the foot.The bid to grab a slice of the lucrative action that brings thousands of tourists to the world famous Loch Ness each year was launched this week by the Banffshire Coast Tourism Partnership.It has begun promoting itself as a key part of Scotland's Dolphin Coast with the launch of a new website www.banffshirecoast.com.
And its chairman Roger Goodyear declared in a press release: "No one, and certainly those who depend on the mythology for a living, cares to admit that Nessie doesn't exist except in the imagination of visitors."Is Nessie real? As they say in all the best pantos at his time of year, 'Oh no, she isn't'... She's not even behind you!"We want people to know that instead of spending valuable holiday time looking for something that doesn't exist they should come to Scotland's Dolphin Coast instead and see something that most certainly does - our dolphins, porpoises and even minke whales."And we can assure our visitors that the dolphins they encounter will be 100 per cent genuine and not a floating log, an upturned rowing boat or a trick of the light."Mr Goodyear said visitors to the Banffshire coast often have the chance to see the resident population of bottle-nosed Moray Firth dolphins as these playful mammals frequently frolic close enough to the shores to view without binoculars.But monster fan club president Gary Campbell said he was disappointed to hear the Banff tourist operators were saying Nessie doesn't exist just to woo visitors.He said: "Ask anyone around the world what the North of Scotland is famous for. Is it Nessie or the dolphins? You'll only get one answer - and it won't be the dolphins."By taking this approach he is shooting himself in the foot and can only drive visitors away."You can see dolphins in many places around the world but you are not guaranteed to see them in the Moray Firth. I've been out on dolphin trips in the Moray Firth and never seen any."They are wild creatures living in a natural environment and, just like Nessie, it's up to them if they are going to appear for visitors or not."It is estimated that around 130 dolphins live along the Moray Firth, and they are the only population living in the North Sea.