Nature Notes: Hidden natural treasure off Berry Head

Bottlenose dolphin breaching

Bottlenose dolphin breaching - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I've been fortunate enough to have travelled the world and, wherever I've wandered, I've tried to view whales and dolphins (cetaceans).

Lee Connor

Lee Connor - Credit: Archant

One of the most memorable of these experiences happened in Hong Kong, where I got to see the little-known and highly endangered pink dolphins.

It was here, back in the early 2000s that I got my first taste of the terrible destruction mankind is wreaking upon the natural world.

Watching these beautiful creatures surfacing in the oily, polluted waters was truly heartbreaking and, listening to the commentary on the amount of stillbirths and infant deaths this vulnerable population of dolphins were experiencing further compounded that feeling of hopelessness.

Fast forward to 2017 and a move to Torbay, and my whale and dolphin spotting days seemed to be over; when looking out from Paignton or Torquay seafront, apart from the odd languid looking gull, our seas often seem quite dead.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.

From the high cliffs of Berry Head, anyone can have a relatively close experience with dolphins and porpoises. Aided with binoculars, we've spent many an hour watching quite large pods of common and bottlenose dolphins leaping in the waves below.

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And, proving that good things really do come in small packages, the extremely cute - and very shy - harbour porpoise, is yet another common sighting. You can often hear its puffing sound - as it comes up to breathe - long before actually spotting it.

Sadly, it's usually easier to spot these wonderful creatures during poor weather or in the winter, probably due to less 'traffic' passing by and around the head.

Recently, I watched some dreadful footage of jet skiers chasing dolphins just down the coast in Weymouth. While the majority of our own jet skiers show consideration for the wildlife, I have seen sf everal jet skiers hounding a pod of dolphins. Such ignorant behaviour is inexcusable and protection of this precious area needs to be rigorously enforced.

So, take the kids and give dolphin spotting a go and, if you aren't successful, the Guardhouse Café does a wonderful mocha and coconut slice to make up for any disappointment!