Dolphin Watching In Devon

Dolphin swimming
13th Oct 2015

What could be better than combining a holiday in beautiful South Devon with spotting some of the most intelligent and playful creatures on earth?

Dolphin Watching In Devon

It’s easy to forget that fully two-thirds of the world’s surface are ocean. Even when visiting the Britain’s beautiful south coast, right next to the sea, you can still spend much of your time being wowed by the landward side of things. Visiting a seafood restaurant or an excellent pub with a view of the sea, you can be forgiven for thinking that all the action is happening on land.

However, there’s one type of creature that, if you are lucky enough to spot one, reminds you that there is a vast and largely unexplored territory right on our doorstep. That creature is the dolphin and its close cousin, the whale.

The Perfect Spot for Dolphin Watching

A recent Sea Watch foundation survey put South Devon at the forefront of whale and dolphin sightings UK-wide. Devon’s coastal waters are regularly frequented by a variety of cetaceans (whales and dolphins), but they can be pretty hard to spot from land. This is especially true of whales and larger dolphins, in particular, as they rarely come into shallow enough waters to be seen by landlubbers.


However, both Minke whales and Pilot whales pass close by relatively often – make sure you always have binoculars handy when taking a coastal walk! Better still, take the plunge and book yourself a spot on a dedicated whale and dolphin-watching boat-trip.


Dolphin or Porpoise?


Smaller dolphins like the Bottlenose dolphin and the Common dolphin are the varieties you are most likely to see. The Bottlenose dolphin is familiar to us all – grey colouration, permanent smile. If you go out on a boat, you may see these friendly water-beings splashing and playing in the boat’s wake, or swimming alongside and performing acrobatics for their human spectators.


The Common dolphin is a little more streamlined, like a torpedo, and is black on top with some yellow, white and grey. Again they are a particularly playful bunch and travel around in groups of fifty to a hundred. They are seen all year round in the seas around Devon.


The most common cetacean in our coastal waters is the Harbour Porpoise. It looks a little like a dolphin, but is actually the Northern Hemisphere’s only porpoise. They are much shyer than dolphins and don’t go in for much jumping and splashing, but with a careful eye, you are more likely to spot one of these than any other whale or dolphin.


Spotting a Killer Whale

If you’re extremely lucky, you may see the largest variety of dolphin – the famous Killer whale or Orca. They do very occasionally come into Devon’s coastal waters. They travel in pods of up to twenty individuals and are extremely active and playful in the water – breaching and spraying water into the air and all manner of dolphin-like high-jinx.

The truth is that relatively little is known about any of these fabulous marine mammals, and it’s difficult even for dedicated marine biologists to keep track of their numbers and behaviour. If you find that you seem to have a knack for spotting them or have just had a lucky encounter, the Devon Wildlife Trust would love to hear from you.

Seeing a dolphin or whale is an experience like no other, and should probably be on your bucket list if it isn’t on there already! And what could be better than combining a holiday in beautiful South Devon with spotting some of the most intelligent and playful creatures on earth?


Welcome Family Holiday Park is a 4* facility located in the sunny Dawlish Warren seaside resort, the perfect location for your next family holiday and some dolphin watching too.