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Dolphin watching from Chanonry Point, Scotland. Image: WDC/Charlie Philips
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Life changing connections with dolphins and whales in the UK

In the UK, we’re fortunate to have whales and dolphins all around our coast. If you’ve been lucky enough to catch a glimpse, you’ll know it’s a magical, exhilarating experience and for some people, like today’s guest blogger, Steve Truluck, it can be life-changing.

Steve ignited a passion for whales and dolphins when he joined WDC’s Shorewatch volunteer programme in Scotland. A passion that led him to leave his career and become one of the UK’s leading whale-watching guides. In his blog, he shares some tips on how you can experience whales and dolphins in the UK for yourself.

Over to Steve... 


Whale and dolphin watching allows us to encounter beautiful and intelligent creatures in their habitat behaving naturally. If we’re lucky, we might have an unforgettable close encounter or witness some incredible behaviour. Regardless of what happens on your trip, getting outdoors and having the excitement and anticipation of exploring an area is great for your mental and physical health. We’re able to immerse ourselves and escape any issues we’re facing in our day-to-day lives, and should we encounter whales or dolphins, that moment becomes truly special as we make that all-important connection … and connection is everything. When we connect, we take more care, and beyond that perhaps we’ll even feel motivated enough to stand up for what we have connected with.

Watching orcas
A close encounter in Caithness, Scotland.
Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Feeding bottlenose dolphins Rangiroa French Polynesia.

Support our work to ensure every whale and dolphin is safe and free.

Some, like the bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth, and Cardigan Bay, are ‘residents’ and live there all year round, while others like the mighty humpback whales, pass through our waters on their migrations. Since moving to Scotland and meeting the bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth, I’ve been fortunate to experience this connection for myself. What a dramatic impact they had on my life! Here is a film called ‘Truluck’ that has been made about how everything changed for me. I will post updates on TruluckFilm on Instagram and SteveTruluckAtSea on Facebook.

On our doorstep

I cannot recommend going whale and dolphin watching enough. Connecting with these incredible creatures can literally be life-changing and you really don’t need to go far afield to see whales and dolphins. Approximately one third of all the species of whales and dolphins have been seen in UK waters, so grab your binoculars and appropriate clothing and see if you can spot them. Here are my suggestions for UK locations you might try for yourself.

Whale and dolphin watching locations around the UK
Whale and dolphin watching locations around the UK

Who, what, where?

You’ll find regional whale and dolphin sightings groups on Facebook for many of these areas. Search for ‘cetacean sightings’ groups (cetacean is the group name for whales, dolphins and porpoises) and for Ireland search for IWDG (Irish Whale and Dolphin Group) regional groups. Join them to follow which species are being seen, where, or for helpful advice specific to that area. You’ll find a wealth of local knowledge within these groups and people who will be only too happy to help you out.

Watching dolphins from shore
Dolphin watchin

Shoulder to shoulder at Chanonry Point, Scotland.


Responsible watching

Watching from the shore is cheap and doesn’t risk disrupting the whales’ and dolphins’ natural behaviours. If you decide to go on a boat trip, please choose your operator with care. Choose an operator that’s experienced and has some accreditation, for example ‘WiSE,’ for behaving responsibly around whales and dolphins.


Happy Watching!

Watching humpback whales

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About Hayley Flanagan

Hayley is WDC's engagement officer, specializing in creating brilliant content for our website and publications.