North Devon is home to a vast diversity of wildlife from grey seals to puffins. With North Devon quickly becoming a hotspot for wildlife tourism, we must ask ourselves, what sort of impact does this have?
Often seen around the shallows, singularly or in small pods, is the harbour porpoise. They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, listed under CITES Appendix II and classified as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. The harbour porpoise is identifiable by its small, triangular dorsal fin, small stocky body and dark grey back with lighter underbelly. Their faces are rounded and have no beak.
Harbour porpoise; Mike Davison
Lundy Island is home to a large grey seal colony, who can often be seen hauled out on the rocks enjoying the sun at low tide. Seals are naturally curious creatures, but they are still wild animals and as such should be treated with caution and respect. Grey seals are often mistaken for being injured or unwell, when they are simply resting between swimming and feeding at sea. You should never approach a seal that you find hauled out. If you have a dog or small children with you, ensure they are kept close by and will not disturb the seal. Should you suspect the animal may be injured, please contact the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, whose fast response medics will attend. Please see our Rescue Hotlines page for full details on how to help.
Grey seal; Mike Davison
Common Dolphins (aka short-beaked common dolphins) are an offshore species, but often come close to shore to feed. Their diet is mainly fish, for which they will work together to herd into a ball. A highly social species, they are normally found in groups, travelling at speed alongside boats.
They have a distinctive hourglass pattern on their sides. The dorsal fin is tall and triangular and curves slightly backwards.
This video shows some of our encounters with this magical, protected species.
Puffins generally spend most of their time out at sea, returning to land to mate. Lundy Island, meaning Puffin Island in Norse, is home to a permanent colony of the marine birds. Puffins can be seen all year round here, but the surest sightings are during their breeding season between the months of March and August. The birds produce one egg a year, which hatches out into a puffling. Around the globe, puffin numbers are in decline due to overfishing, but here on Lundy, safe within the crucial conservation area, they are thriving.
Puffin; Mike Davison
European otters can be found all over the United Kingdom. They were previously pushed to the brink of extinction by hunting, pesticides and habitat destruction. Luckily, after the banning of pesticides and chemicals such as DDT, they are thriving in our rivers and waterways once more.
In this video we volunteered at the UK Wild Otter Trust in Umberleigh, Devon to learn about the critical rescue, rehabilitation and release work the trust carries out.
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