Over the past couple of years we’ve expanded our offering to run wildlife watching boat trips in conjunction with a number of respected wildlife charities and organisations. This has includes Marine Life, Dorset Dolphin Watch and Nature Trek – one of the leading wildlife holidays providers in the UK.

Given the increase of wildlife sightings we’ve experienced in the past couple of years, we thought it was important to brush up on our marine mammal identification skills to ensure customers have a memorable experience aboard our Weymouth charter boat. Whilst we don’t offer a guided commentary, it’s useful to be able to identify the species for customers and pass on a couple of key bits of information.

gannet

Marine life identification course

We signed up to participate in a one day Whales, Dolphins and Seabirds Identification Course in Poole. The course was run by Marine Life and promised to give an overview of species commonly sighted in the UK.

Marine Life are committed to building a repository of data from sightings and surveys, to help guide conservation efforts and inform policy. Having properly trained volunteers ensures data is standardised and reliable, thus increasing its quality for future use.

The session took places in the aptly named Dolphin Centre in Poole and was hosted by Rick Morris – the charities job title. Rick showed us a variety of field guides and photos – highlighting the tell tale signs we should look out for at sea.

Given the amount of dolphin sightings we have aboard Snapper Charters – this was the part of the course that interested us the most. We’ve seen hundreds of common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins over the years, but we’re less familiar with White Beaked and Rissos dolphins, both of which can be spotted in nearby Lyme Bay – an area we sometimes venture on our full day wildlife watching or fishing boat trips.

bottlenose dolphins

Despite only seeing whales on a handful of occasions, we found it incredibly interesting to learn how to identify different species by their blow pattern. We also improved our seabird identification skills. Weymouth and Portland are two of the best bird watching destinations along the South West Coast, so this will come in useful as we round Portland Bill – it’s common to sea shags, cormorants, guillemots, razorbills and fulmars nesting here. We’ve also spotted migrating species such as mes gulls, Balearic shear waters and even puffins here during our trips.

Wildlife spotting materials

The course was rounded off with a quiz to test our new found knowledge and I’m delighted to say we did very well. It would have been embarrassing if we didn’t, seeing as a number of our previous customers were on the course!

The lesson inspired us to create our own field guides for use on our boat trips. Pop into the cabin and ask to borrow our laminated colour photos, to help you identify anything that you might see.

fulmar seabird

Weymouth boat trips

We invite you to join one of our sightseeing boat trips from Weymouth aboard our modern charter boat. We venture to iconic destinations along the Jurassic Coast, including Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Portland Harbour, Portland Bill and Chesil Cove.

Whilst we don’t offer any designated wildlife watching boat trips of our own accord, it’s important to note there’s always a possibility of spotting dolphins and seabirds during our sightseeing trips (though we cannot guarantee this).