National Marine Week
25 July-9 August is The Wildlife Trusts’ National Marine Week, which celebrates the UK’s amazing sea animals. Here are some of the best places to catch a glimpse of our marine wildlife …
Blakeney Point, within Blakeney National Nature Reserve (nationaltrust.org.uk/blakeney) has a huge grey seal colony with sightings all year round. The National Trust recommends visitors take a boat from Morston Quay to see the seals. Orkney, Scotland, is also a significant breeding site for both the grey and common seal, and visitors can also look out for porpoise, dolphins, whales and basking sharks.
The Yorkshire coast is a great spot to discover plenty of wildlife including whales, which are best seen from late August to early November. Enjoy a Forest And Sea Wildlife Safari with Yorkshire Coast Nature (yorkshirecoastnature.co.uk), where you will be taken through the forests of the North York Moors (northyorkmoors.org.uk) to look for wildlife, followed by a boat trip to search for cetaceans at sea. Whitby Whale Watching (whitbywhalewatching.net) also run daily whale watching trips where minke whales are regularly spotted, and fin, sei and humpback whales have also been seen.
Join an on-board researcher for a Dolphin Survey Boat Trip from Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (cbmwc.org) for a glimpse of the Bay’s bottlenose dolphins. On every Thursday during the summer holidays, visitors are also given the chance to become a Dolphin Detective, where they can learn about the dolphins and how to ID them, undertake a land watch survey, help record dolphin sightings, and create crafts to take home.
Puffin Island, unsurprisingly, is a great location to see puffins, as well as various other marine wildlife. Just off the coast of Wales, the island is home to at least ten species of seabird – including guillemots, razorbills and herring gulls – as well as a colony of grey seals and the occasional harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin. Book a Puffin Island cruise at seacoastsafaris.co.uk.
Cricklepit Mill in Exeter (devonwildlifetrust.org) has regular otter sightings, often during the day, and has a hide installed for visitors to view wildlife without being spotted. Westhay Moor in Somerset (somersetwildlife.org) is also a good site for otter-spotting, and otters in the Outer Hebrides are also common, with the RSPB organising Western Isles Otter Walks during the summer. As otters are sensitive to disruptions in their environment, try to remain as still and quiet as possible while on the lookout.
Although water voles have disappeared from a lot of the country, it is still possible to spot them in certain areas of the UK. Derbyshire still has some areas where populations have survived, including Eastern Peak District Moors, River Wye, Chesterfield Canal and Carsington Water. Visit derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk for more information.