Whale and dolphin watching is booming in the seas around Britain, with a surprising 29 different species of marine mammals having been recorded in our waters.
National Whale and Dolphin Watch (NWDW) 2019 – an annual survey organised by Sea Watch Foundation and now in its 16th year – runs from 27 July to 4 August. Throughout the week, all sightings of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) will be submitted to a nationwide database to build up a picture of their population and distribution in the UK.
The south, west and north coasts of Cornwall are among the best places in the country to see some of these amazing, aquatic animals. This summer, join a wildlife-spotting boat trip (with one of the Sea Watch-approved operators listed below) to do your bit for citizen science and help protect these precious, ocean-going creatures in the process.
AK Wildlife Cruises are running special, all-day excursions from Falmouth harbour for this year’s NWDW to gather as many cetacean sightings as possible. Four different dolphin species – common, bottlenose, white-beaked and Risso’s – can be seen along the Cornish south coast. Huge basking sharks (the second biggest fish in the world) and bizarre ocean sunfish visit the area too. Shorter, family-friendly outings are also available.
Take the GWR train to Falmouth Town
From their base on Penzance’s Albert Pier, eco-minded operator Marine Discovery offers a wildlife watching experience with a difference. A voyage along the county’s rugged west coastline on board their 34-foot sailing catamaran, ‘Shearwater II’, not only has a lower environmental impact, but also allows for intimate encounters with some of our more elusive species, including harbour porpoises – our smallest and shyest cetaceans – and even minke whales. Common, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins are also regularly spotted from the boat. Choose from 1½-hour, 3-hour and 4-hour options for outings.
Take the GWR train to Penzance
Take a two-hour trip from the north coast’s surfing Mecca with Newquay Sea Safaris. Exciting encounters with bottlenose and common dolphin pods, plus harbour porpoises, are all possible. Sightings of breeding seabirds, such as puffins and kittiwakes, and the town harbour’s semi-resident grey seals are pretty much guaranteed. This award-winning (for wildlife-friendly tourism) company also offers opportunities to snorkel with blue sharks!
Take the GWR train to Newquay