Wildlife Sightings Blog
Dolphin watching on the Isle of Mull
The smallest cetacean species
in European waters, it reaches lengths between 1.4 and 1.9 metres.
With a dark grey back, paler sides and underneath and centrally
placed triangular dorsal fin they can be seen nearly anywhere
around the UK, however they are more common around South-west and
western Ireland, West Wales, the west coast of Scotland and the
Islands and Eastern Scotland. They also have a blunt head and lack
a beak, characteristic of species such as the Bottlenose Dolphin.
Around the Hebrides they are resident and are seen throughout the
year, usually singly or in small family groups of up to 5
individuals. These small animals tend not to be interested in
boats and are unlikely to approach vessels, however it is possible
to get good views of them as they surface. A little less playful
than Dolphins they rarely if ever jump clear of the water. More
likely to be seen is a series of quick surfaces followed by a
longer dive. During a regular surface they roll across the surface
and then disappear again. Their Gaelic name means 'Puffing Pig',
in reference to the noise they make when they exhale at the
In the Hebrides Sand-eels, Herring and Sprat make up the bulk of
the Harbour Porpoise's diet, however they have been known to eat
squid, octopus, shellfish and up to 20 different species of fish.
When foraging they spend up to 6 minutes underwater.
Harbour Porpoise numbers have seen a decrease around the UK, this
is mostly due to human activities. The area of the sea most used
by humans overlaps with the highest Porpoise numbers and they are
very vulnerable to over fishing, marine litter and getting
entangled in fishing nets. At present it is thought that several
thousand Porpoise may die in the UK every year due to being
drowned in fishing nets. Around the Hebrides Killer Whales and
Bottlenose Dolphins have both been seen to prey on Harbour