Cetacean watching tips

Key points:

Scanning for cetaceans

  • Scan the water back and forth, you can do this with or without binoculars
  • You are looking for a flash of movement and a colour different from the surrounding water
  • If you think you might have seen something, keep looking at that area. Cetaceans can dive for long periods.
  • Splashes on a calm day can be a clue to a cetacean’s presence

Weather influences what you can see

  • Wind with large waves makes it harder to spot cetaceans
  • Best days to survey are on calm days with low wind and a relatively flat sea


Other species

  • Birds, particularly gannets and gulls, are a useful clue as well
  • Gannets circle around feeding areas, and often use cetaceans to location fish below
  • Lots of diving birds can mean that fish have been pushed close to the surface by predators (i.e. possibly cetaceans) below.

Where to see cetaceans


On land

You don’t have to be at sea to see a cetacean! Viewing from land is a low-disturbance way to view porpoise, whales and dolphins. There are lots of locations around the coast in Pembrokeshire and beyond where you can spot a cetacean.

Below are some locations with a few of the species commonly found there – but remember these are wild animals so the lists below should be taken as useful tips rather than a guarantee of a particular species in any location.

  • Strumble Head – harbour porpoise, risso’s dolphin, minke whale, grey seals, sunfish, leatherback turtles and more!
  • Ramsey sound – harbour porpoise and grey seals
  • Newquay – famous for it’s bottlenose dolphins
  • Fishguard bay – bottlenose dolphins (summer) and harbour porpoise (year-round)