A good time for dolphin spotting
Few sights are more magical than a pod of dolphins off the beautiful Dorset coast and one of the best times to spot these enchanting sea creatures is the early autumn. Twenty-eight species of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) are recorded along the UK coastline, of which fourteen are recorded in the south west. The most common species reported in Dorset is the playful and highly intelligent bottlenose dolphin. Studies have shown that these beautiful creatures can solve problems, show empathy and display emotional intelligence; traits commonly seen in humans and primates. Dolphins can be spotted swimming, hunting and playing from clifftops, beaches, harbours and boats along the coast. Excited seabirds are a clear giveaway of surface activity. Keep your distance, use binoculars, be patient and look out for an irregular wave, a splash or even a dark fin breaking the surface.
Where to see dolphins
On the Isle of Purbeck, Durlston Head and Old Harry Rocks at Handfast Point are both renowned lookouts for pods of dolphins swimming off the iconic chalk cliffs. Moving further west, one of the county’s most celebrated dolphin watching spots is the Kimmeridge Cliffs, providing a breath-taking vantage point with spectacular views across the bay. The Dorset Wildlife Trust organise regular Dolphin Watch events when you can join the Marine Wardens to learn more about the different species of dolphins in Dorset and get tips on how to spot them. Visit dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/events. Last but not least on our list is Portland Bill, Dorset’s most southerly point and a wonderful place to see dolphins swimming in the shallow reefs and rocky outcrops.
Support Dorset’s marine wildlife
Despite having few natural predators along the Dorset coast, dolphins are nevertheless at huge risk from an increase in pressure from human activity. Dolphins get injured by speed boats, caught in fishing nets, affected by plastic pollution or other interactions with people. Find out more about the ways that Dorset Wildlife Trust protects and supports dolphins by visiting our website dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk.
Hazel Ormrod, Dorset Wildlife Trust