Dorset Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins © Stewart Canham

Bottlenose dolphins © Stewart Canham

Dorset Dolphins

Discover Dorset's dolphins

To see a whale or dolphin, either for the first time or any other time, can evoke such emotion. An experience that will stay with you forever!

Twenty-eight species of whales, dolphins and porpoises (collectively known as cetaceans) are recorded along the UK coastline, of which fourteen are recorded in the south west.  In Dorset, the most common species reported is the playful bottlenose dolphins. Bottlenose dolphins can problem solve, show empathy and self-awareness and display emotional intelligence; traits commonly seen in humans and primates. They are also capable of being trained in captivity - remember Flipper, in the 1980’s? So perhaps it’s not so unusual that some choose a solitary life away from their pod and occasionally seek out human interaction.  On occasion, solitary dolphins known locally as “George” in 2007 and more recently “Danny” in 2019 have made regular appearances.

Species recorded in Dorset

There are approximately 10 different cetacean species recorded in Dorset.  Live sightings have included porpoises, bottlenose, common, striped and white-beaked dolphins.  Larger still we have seen the minke and humpback whale.  Risso’s dolphins, a long-finned pilot whale and a very large fin whale all stranded before we could help them! 

Follow the Cetacean Code of Conduct

All cetaceans are protected from disturbance and harm through UK and EU law. Please help safeguard these vulnerable animals through the Code of Conduct for cetacean watching (link below).

Report your sighting

Seen a whale or dolphin in Dorset? Tweet us your sightings and photo (@DWTMarine) or contact us on Facebook.  You can also email us

Live strandings

The underwater world is now a noisy place and occasionally cetaceans may beach themselves through confusion, fear or ill health.  If you find a live cetacean, please call the experts.  Do not try to rescue the animal your self – you will be risking the health and safety of both the cetacean and you.   

You can call, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546 (office hours) or 07787 433412 (out of hours) or the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme on 0800 652 0333.


Dead Cetaceans

Whilst this is indeed a sad sight, it can offer a glimpse into the health of our local area.  A necropsy is the only way to prove the cause of death and only possible from a fresh carcass.  Time is of the essence.  Please contact the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme on 0800 652 0333.

Health and Safety

Please remember, all cetaceans carry harmful diseases carried in the breath, skin and bodily fluids of these mammals.  These can be transmitted to us when they are both alive and dead.  Keep a safe distance and keep dogs on leads.