The world's most northerly population of bottlenose dolphins is stable and may be increasing, according to new research.
The east coast of Scotland is home to around 195 dolphins, the only resident population in the North Sea, and one experts say is "vulnerable".
A report from the University of Aberdeen, commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), draws on more than 20 years of research into the dolphins and found that the east coast population is remaining stable.
Morven Carruthers, SNH policy and advice officer, said: "We can say with some confidence that the population of bottlenose dolphins on the east coast of Scotland is stable or increasing.
"And the number of dolphins using the Moray Firth special area of conservation between 1990 and 2010 appears to be stable.
"However, this population is considered vulnerable due to being small and isolated from other populations."