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Cornwall is home to many marine habitats from rocky shores to kelp forests and eel grass meadows. Our seas are home to basking sharks (the world’s second biggest fish), charismatic bottlenose dolphins, majestic leatherback turtles, globally rare iconic grey seals and awe inspiring seabirds, including the much loved puffin!

If you are lucky you may get a sighting these amazing creatures somewhere around the coast, but when can they be seen?

  • If the Spring weather is good, then the plankton ‘blooms’ and the Basking Sharks arrive on their annual northerly migration from their offshore Winter feeding grounds and sometimes they return in the Autumn on the return leg of their journey.
  • As we move into the Summer months then a large variety Seabirds come to nest and raise their young on the cliffs and islands which are all around the Cornish coast.
  • This time of year can also see herald the arrival of the Leatherback Turtles, which exist offshore, this sometimes comes together with reports of a rather odd looking animal called the Ocean Sunfish, which looks like it’s swimming on it’s side.
  • The Autumn and Winter months brings the chance to see the fluffy white Grey Seal pups being born and raised by their attentive mothers, but in each case only for such a brief period of three to four weeks.
  • Then of course there are the Dolphins that visit our waters all year round. There is a small but internationally significant pod of Bottlenose Dolphins that can be seen from time to time and also, further offshore, sometimes there are large aggregations of the smaller but faster Common Dolphins. But there are many other cetaceans that can be seen from the shy Harbour Porpoise right up to the mighty Fin Whale, the second largest animal ever to have lived!

Sadly this marine life is under threat from numerous pressures such as climate change, marine development and ever increasing levels of coastal recreation that is enjoyed by all of us. The unintentional and cumulative effects that we have on our wildlife can be devastating, from seals being flushed off rocks or beaches to appalling injuries and deaths from boat strikes and propellers.

Please help us - together we can make a difference by:
- keeping a respectful distance from any marine life, remaining quiet and aiming to leave all marine creatures as we find them - relaxed and behaving naturally;
- if possible using a WiSe accredited marine wildlife operator;
- reporting any disturbance of marine life to Cornwall Wildlife’s 24 hour hotline 0345 201 2626.

For more information visit:

Cornwall Wildlife Trust website
WiSe Scheme website
British Divers Marine Life Rescue website
Cornwall Seal Group website

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