Our Wildlife.

Lots to see

Wildlife in St Ives

St Ives is a picturesque fishing harbour and  seaside town with beautiful golden beaches. It has been voted the best family holiday destination by Coast magazine and has one of TripAdvisor’s top 10 European beaches.

Dolphins in St Ives

The Cornish Atlantic and Channel coasts host a plethora of wonderful wildlife, many of which you may not expect. Some are residents and others seasonal visitors; the changing climate has started to show some variations in species seen and when and we are often surprised by some of the world’s most amazing sights. If you want to know more, come on one of our trips where we discuss much of our marine life.

Here we look at some of our coasts most seen dolphins.

Common Dolphins

Our most often seen dolphin species, sometimes in incredibly large groups (5-700 strong) but mostly in smaller pods of 20-40. They live offshore and come to the coast to feed. A highly social and playful dolphin they are known to play around the boats and frequently jump out of the water. We see them year-round although only the larger groups in winter months.

One of the smaller dolphins but still up to around 8 ft long they are easy to identify with their contrasting white markings.

Bottlenose Dolphins

Over recent years we have seen less Bottlenose dolphins on the coast but are still often found in deeper waters on our longer trips. Plain grey in colour they are one of the world’s most recognizable dolphins, highly social and playful, often surfing in our wake having fun. We see them in groups of 20-40.

Larger than many people expect, bottlenose dolphins reach up to 12 ft long.

 

Risso Dolphins

Unlike bottlenose our sightings of Risso dolphins have increased significantly in recent years, previously thought of as quite mysterious and only in deeper waters we now see them fairly frequently in more coastal waters. Pale in colour they get whiter and whiter as they age and like bottlenose dolphins reach around 12ft in length.

With their lack of a pronounced beak, they are instantly recognizable but generally not as playful as some of the other species.

Harbour Porpoise

Whilst technically not directly part of the dolphin family they belong to the same order and have many similarities. Smaller and more shy than most dolphins we see them in very small numbers or even alone. 

With a rounder face having no beak and generally up to about 6ft long they are usually easy to identify compared to the dolphins. Sometimes you may hear one before seeing on with their loud blow sound giving them the nickname “the puffing pig”.

Orca

After humans the second most widespread animal on the planet and therefore not surprising to see off the Cornish coast. We include them in the dolphin category as their often-used name of Killer Whales is quite inaccurate with them being in fact the world’s largest member of the oceanic dolphin family. 

The UK has a resident group and also hosts visiting transients at times. Instantly recognisable by their huge size and tall dorsal fin we are not likely to see them in the summer months but do sometimes get lucky off season and realistically only possible on our long-range safaris.

Other species

Cornwall also sees striped dolphins, Atlantic white sided dolphins, pilot whales and white beaked dolphins.

Seals in St Ives

The Cornish Atlantic and Channel coasts host a plethora of wonderful wildlife, many of which you may not expect. Some are residents and others seasonal visitors; the changing climate has started to show some variations in species seen and when and we are often surprised by some of the world’s most amazing sights. If you want to know more, come on one of our trips where we discuss much of our marine life.

Here we look at some of our planet’s most beautiful seals, seen off our shores.

Grey Seals

Grey seals are the larger of the two resident species of seal in the UK and are a daily sight in Cornwall. Our coast offers many feeding and resting areas where at times they can be seen in numbers of 100 or more. 

They have a healthy lifespan of 30-40 years and grow to a considerable size, the largest males being well over 7 feet long. You may often see them “bottling”, just bobbing up and down on the surface with their nose showing vertically, usually grabbing a short nap!

Common Seals

Ironically, they are the less common seal in Cornwall, more often seen on our East coasts but we do get the occasional visitor. At times they’ve been known to explore estuaries and rivers looking for food and so can sometimes be seen inland. 

Smaller than grey seals they can still at their biggest grow to 5-6 feet long but can easily be identified by their shorter head and V-shaped nostrils.

Sharks in St Ives

The Cornish Atlantic and Channel coasts host a plethora of wonderful wildlife, many of which you may not expect. Some are residents and others seasonal visitors; the changing climate has started to show some variations in species seen and when and we are often surprised by some of the world’s most amazing sights. If you want to know more, come on one of our trips where we discuss much of our marine life.

Here we look at some of our visiting Sharks.

Blue Shark

A common shark for us in the summer months in the 7-9ft range, blues migrate to our warmer summer waters, generally offshore but sometimes close to the coast. Active predators, they are distinctive with a long slim body and come here to feed mostly on fish and squid.

Porbeagle Shark

Part of the mackerel shark family and one of the closest relatives to the Great White they reach 7-9ft and are one of the more common sharks in our waters. Like Great Whites they are endothermic and actually thrive in colder waters giving them a huge variety of areas to survive. 

Basking Shark

Sadly, with warming waters our sightings of these magnificent animals have become much less common, they used to be a frequent sight. The worlds second largest shark they have been known to reach over 30 ft long. Like many large whales they are plankton feeders, opening their huge mouth wide to feed on the tiny prey.

Thresher Shark in ocean

Thresher Shark

One of the most incredible sights is a Thresher breaching clear from the water they can be as much as 18ft long making them our largest predatory shark. A migratory shark we, see them in our summer months. Easily recognisable by their long upper lobe on the tail.

Whales in St Ives

The Cornish Atlantic and Channel coasts host a plethora of wonderful wildlife, many of which you may not expect. Some are residents and others seasonal visitors; the changing climate has started to show some variations in species seen and when and we are often surprised by some of the world’s most amazing sights. If you want to know more, come on one of our trips where we discuss much of our marine life.

Here we look at some of our planet’s most magnificent whales, seen off our shores.

Humpback Whales

Thanks to worldwide conservation efforts Humpback whales have been making a global comeback and are now seen quite frequently at certain times of year. Approaching nearly 60 feet long (near twice the length of Dolly P) with flippers of almost 15 feet they are a large baleen whale feeding on Krill and fish in cooler waters before travelling to warmer breeding grounds, covering many thousands of miles over a year.

Rarely for an animal of this size they can be incredibly nimble and acrobatic sometimes breaching clean out of the water. One of the most spectacular wildlife sights anywhere in the world.

Minke Whales

Falling in the 25-30 feet range they are the UK’s smallest whale but let’s not pretend they’re a small animal! Like Humpbacks, they are known to breach clear of the water and can be incredibly inquisitive around quiet and respectful boats. They are the most common whale off our coast and are seen year-round.

A dark grey body and a tall curved dorsal fin makes Minkes quite easy to identify.

Fin Whales

Becoming slightly more common but still relatively rare, the Fin whale is the second longest animal to ever live on our planet with only the blue whale being bigger, the biggest Fin whales being around 85 feet long. They are relatively sleek for an animal that size and can be incredibly fast giving them the nickname “the greyhounds of the sea” as they have been known to hit speeds of 25mph.

Also known as “the razorback whale” due to their distinct ridge along their back behind the dorsal fin making them easy to identify.

Other Species in St Ives

The Cornish Atlantic and Channel coasts host a plethora of wonderful wildlife, many of which you may not expect. Some are residents and others seasonal visitors; the changing climate has started to show some variations in species seen and when and we are often surprised by some of the world’s most amazing sights. If you want to know more, come on one of our trips where we discuss much of our marine life.

Here we look at some of our more interesting species.

Ocean Sunfish

An unusual looking fish the sunfish visit our coast in the summer to feed on jellyfish. They are one of the worlds largest bony fish and can be over 10ft long although we only see smaller members here. When we see them it’s because they come to the surface and lie on their side, thought to be basking in the sunshine, this is where their name comes from.

Common Octopus

An immensely intelligent predator these octopus can reach around 3ft in length. Generally, a browny colour they can change their colour often depending on their environment or their mood, their favourite diet is crab, usually abundant in our waters.

Bluefin Tuna

Reaching an incredible 10ft long these huge and extremely fast animals are seen quite commonly, sometimes very close in shore. They can breach clean out of the water and vanish again making sightings fleeting. Through conservation and protection programs we are seeing a significant increase in their numbers.

Leatherback Turtle

An extremely rare sighting for us these giant creatures often dive to great depths hunting jellyfish, they travel alone only congregating with other turtles for breeding. They can live for around a hundred years and be as much as 9 ft long.