Guide to Cornwall’s marine wildlife
See dolphins, seals and sharks!

Guide to Cornwall’s marine wildlife

Cornwall is a holiday destination like few others. Boasting a wide and varied mix of attractions, destinations and beaches. With its outstanding natural beauty too, there really is something for everyone to enjoy year after year…

One huge draw for many visitors to Cornwall, that can sometimes be overlooked, however, is the county’s natural wildlife and habitat. The region is home to an abundance of marine wildlife – and you can get up-close and personal to all manner of rare and beautiful creatures with relative ease.

Here we take a look at just some of the wildlife you could see only a short distance from our Cornwall holiday park.


Take one of the many boat excursions (/best-boat-trips-around-cornwall/) from Looe, Polperro or Fowey and head out into English Channel and you might be lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins.
The most common variety are Bottlenose dolphins and they are regular visitors to Cornish waters. They are social animals and usually found in groups of up to 15 animals. You will often see these acrobatic swimmers jumping in and out of the water or even doing somersaults!

Common Dolphins (also known as short-beaked common dolphins) are also seen in our waters. Their pods can be larger and, like Bottlenose Dolphins, are playful and can often be seen jumping out of the water or slapping their flippers on the surface.

White Beaked Dolphins are the other type of dolphin that swim off our shores. Their pods are usually between 5 and 50 strong but are usually found in groups of less than 10.


There are several types of seal that also spend their time in Cornwall, with the Grey Seal being one of the most common. This large mammal spends most of its time out at sea but is often seen on rock shores and its pups can be seen between October and December.

The Harbour Seal or Common Seal as it is sometimes known is also a regular visitor. They are more often seen around sheltered shores and estuaries where they lay on sandbanks and beaches. Like Grey Seals, they feed on fish, but also eat squids, whelks, crabs and mussels. The young are born during the summer.

Basking Sharks

If you’re a bather, then the sight of a basking shark swimming close to the shore can be somewhat unnerving… but don’t be afraid. These huge creatures aren’t interested in you.
The second-largest fish on the planet, the Basking Shark feeds on tiny plankton which they filter out of the water by swimming slowly back and forth with their mouths wide open. They’re most commonly seen in the summer months.


This peculiar-looking fish is flat and circular and silvery grey in colour. It has two very large fins – one on each side. It’s not a native species to Cornwall but sometimes turns up on our shores after storms out at sea.

They can sometimes be seen on their side, on the surface of the water, basking in the sun.

Find out more about all these and a host of other species on Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s website, by clicking the button below.