This loveable creature is rather shy. But the crew of the Sealife Safari vessels have clocked up considerable experience in knowing how to get the best views.
Porpoises around Padstow
One of the five species of cetacean (dolphins, porpoises and whales) you can spot on a Padstow Sealife Safari is the Harbour Porpoise. This is the only porpoise that can be found in European waters.
It is a relatively small creature. In fact, one of the smallest cetaceans living in the sea. The Harbour Porpoise has a dark grey back, lighter grey sides and a distinctive almost white underside. It also has a rolling-style of swim and its short, triangular-shaped dorsal fin often sticks out from the water, which is how it can be spotted.
However, this loveable creature is rather shy. Even though they are the most numerous cetacean in UK waters, they are tricky to spot. They are found in smaller pods than dolphins of only 2-5 individuals or sometimes alone. Only a small portion of their back with a small dorsal fin shows when they surface so when the sea is anything but calm, they are not easily spotted.
This is also because porpoises are unlikely to come as close to the boat as dolphins. This shyness makes a sighting even more special and memorable.
Being as respectful and caring as possible, the crew will stop the boat to allow the porpoises not to be spooked. In which case, you may be able to hear the ‘puffing’ noise that happens when a porpoise breaks the surface of the water and starts to breathe through its blowhole. This led to them acquiring the cute nickname of “puffing pigs”.
More porpoise facts
Harbour porpoise grow to around 1.5 to 1.9 metres, surviving on a diet of fish, squid, crabs and shrimp. An interesting fact is that with this particular species of mammal, the male tends to be smaller in size than the female.
Another reason they are trickier to spot than dolphins is that in shallower water they tend to swim as near to the seabed as possible. They can move along at speeds of around about 15mph. Harbour Porpoise have been known to travel inland up river estuaries too.
This species of sea mammal tend to be loners. They forage for food solo and only gather in small pods usually made up of females and offspring. They live for around 15-20 years, and pregnancy lasts around 10 months.
Best way to see porpoise off Cornwall
The crews of our two-hour sea life safari boat trips will always keep their eagle eyes to spot the Harbour porpoises that live off these shores and will alert you to any sightings.
If you have a particular passion for porpoises, then why not charter one of our skippered boats. That way, our experienced staff can take you past Harbour Porpoise hotspots to give you the best possible chance of getting fabulous views of this loveable cetacean.