I have been itching to get on a sea safari in Cornwall with Captain Keith of AK Cruises in Falmouth, as several of my friends have recommended him for his knowledge and uncanny ability to spot wildlife in the bay.
When the opportunity arose to join both him and my fellow beach cleaner and marine conservationist Emily Stevenson of Beach Guardian
, I jumped at the chance.
We joined the boat at Falmouth Marina and set off out of the harbour, down the Carrick Roads and out to sea. It was a grey, cloudy day but reasonably calm and perfect for spotting the black backs of the marine mammals we were looking for – dolphins, whales and seals, according to Keith.
Emily was on a mission to produce some data for her University research into marine microplastics so we started with a trawl for 15 minutes to identify what was floating in the sea water below us. This was repeated 3 times in various locations on the trip and the vials will be analysed for their content back in her laboratory. Sadly even with the naked eye, it was possible to see particles of plastic with the naked eye in every bottle which does not bode well for the marine creatures who live and feed in our man-made plastic soup!
As we left the estuary we passed close by the St Anthony lighthouse and a large group of Shags and Cormorants perched on a rocky outcrop in front of it, their wings outstretched wide in an attempt to dry their wings after diving for fish.
Hugging the coast and heading east we poked our noses into several little coves favoured by grey seals. We spotted 6 or so on our way towards Portscatho, keeping a good distance away and viewing them with binoculars. There was great excitement to find a pure white baby seal just a few days old on a small beach being carefully guarded by its Mum. Apparently they can’t swim until they are a few weeks old so are very vulnerable to being swept out to sea in westerly gales.
Above our heads many types of gull were wheeling and Keith spotted 2 Peregrine falcons on the cliffs – the fastest bird on earth apparently.
After pottering up the coast for a while, we headed out to sea and watched the depth increasing to over 30 meters on the chart plotter, plus the locations of this year’s marine mammal sightings across the bay.
Another plastic trawl underway and a shout from Keith, ‘ dolphins at 11 o’ clock! Everyone clambered on deck, cameras at the ready while 6 or so adults frolicked around the boat -a very special experience to be so close to them!
We sighted 2 more pods, a large one with mums and very young babies then a group of adults who put on a wonderful acrobatic display for us, leaping high out of the water.
Gannets were diving like missiles all around us and Keith even spotted five Balearic shearwaters – a breed on the endangered list.
The time just flew by and all too soon it was time to head back to the marina. I felt privileged to have seen so much marine wildlife on my doorstep and at the same time sad to have seen so much plastic floating in the currents offshore.
We retrieved a mask, crisp packet and plastic crate as well as the microplastics in the samples.
Whether you are a local or visiting on holiday, I thoroughly recommend a trip with AK cruises for a relaxing and informative day out. I shall be going out again just as soon as I can!
Enjoy a break in Cornwall
If you would like to enjoy a break in Cornwall, there are lots of things to do throughout the year. We’ve got a range of cottages which sleep 4-12 people and we’ve won many awards for our family-friendly accommodation – find out more and check availability.
Have you discovered any amazing wildlife spotting days out or adventures that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you on our Facebook page, Instagram @Action_Nan or tweet @ActionNan