Other Mammal Species – Cetaceans

The main focus of the Dorset Mammals Group is the county’s terrestrial mammals but three species of cetacean; bottlenose and white-beaked dolphin and harbour porpoise are regularly encountered and several other species are seen less frequently.

How to see cetaceans in Dorset:

Commercial operators including Westbay Charters and Naturetrek run trips into Lyme Bay to specifically look for white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises. Other species seen less frequently include:

  1. Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata
  2. Long-finned pilot whale Globicephala melas
  3. Common dolphin Delphinus delphis
  4. Risso’s dolphin Grampus griseus

Harbour porpoises are regularly seen from land in Lyme Bay and occasionally elsewhere and bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen anywhere along the coastline from Lyme Regis in the west to Christchurch Harbour in the east.

Headlands such as Durlston Head near Swanage and Portland Bill offer good opportunities to look for cetaceans from the land and bottlenose dolphins are regularly encountered at both sites but particularly during summer months.

Ferries running from Weymouth and Poole offer further opportunities for boat based cetacean watching with an outside chance of deeper water species such as:

  1. Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata
  2. Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus
  3. Humpback whale Megaptera novaengliae
  4. Long-finned pilot whale Globicephala melas
  5. Common dolphin Delphinus delphis
  6. Striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba
  7. Cuvier’s beaked whale Ziphius cavirostris