A lot of people think that seeing whales or dolphins involves a trip abroad either to the Azores, Iceland or New Zealand. But this just isn’t the case. Every year these marine mammals visit the UK waters and hundreds of people are lucky enough to see these majestic animals right on their doorstep.
It’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time!
Dolphins are spotted every year along the South West coastline. Common bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins are frequent visitors with several hundred individuals calling these waters home. In April a 15-strong pod of playful common dolphins delighted onlookers as they jumped and splashed in the water meters from the shore at Sennen Cove, Cornwall.
Both species can be seen in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, with popular places including Portland Bill, Dorset, Prawle Point and Plymouth in Devon and Porthleven, Falmouth, the Lizard Peninsula, and Hella Point in Cornwall.
These dolphins were filmed following a boat off the coast of Falmouth in 2016:
While not as common, Risso’s dolphins are also spotted every year along this coastline. With a grey body, Risso’s dolphins are easy to identify given the large pattern of white scars that cover their body. They have a bulbous forehead with no beak, and the mouth line slopes up to look like a smile. Recent sightings include at Chesil beach, Dorset and Pendennis Point in Cornwall.
While dolphins can be seen throughout the year, they are most commonly spotted from April to July.
The smallest of the cetacean species, the harbour porpoise, be seen all along the south west coast. While these creatures are much shyer, you are more likely to spot one of these because they reside closer to the shore. This June there were several recorded sightings on Lundy Island, while others were seen at Ilfracombe, Hartland Point and Foreland Point in Devon and at Pentire Point in Cornwall.
As the video shows, these creatures are much more elusive than their splashing cousins. These three were spotted at Berry Head in Devon:
Whales also make regular visits to these coastlines. One particular humpback whale made the headlines this year after making regular stops at Start Bay, Devon in March. People came from across the country to see the feeding whale, who was visible from the shore.
In 2016 a humpback whale wowed spectators off the coast of Brixham in Devon:
As the video shows, you don’t need to go on boat tours to see these amazing creatures. People standing on the shore/cliffs above have been lucky enough to glimpse them.
From reports, it appears the best time to see this particular species is March to May.
While much rarer, killer whales, minke whales and fin whales have also been seen along the coastline in the summer months. Only last week a killer whale was spotted at Portscatho, Cornwall while a minke whale was seen near Fowey in late June.
Featured image of breaching humpback whale. Photo: Creative Commons