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Spot Bottlenose Dolphins, Basking Sharks and Barrel Jellyfish in Cornwall

Put down your shrimping net, take a break from bodyboarding. The sandcastles can wait and there’ll still be ice cream when you get back. The fact is, the seas around Cornwall promise one of the most exciting marine life safaris anywhere in the UK.

Slipping out of Penzance harbour on a wildlife-watching boat trip, all eyes scour Mount’s Bay. Even this close to shore you might spot your first harbour porpoise. Blink and you’ll miss it – these stocky little cetaceans surface only briefly.

Heading further out to sea, you may be lucky enough to encounter their bigger, more exuberant cousins. Common, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins are all found in these waters, sometimes in large pods. If you see them, keep your fingers crossed that they’ll put on a show: breaching, spyhopping or – best of all – bow-riding right beneath you.

More sedate, but just as exciting, minke whales are commonly sighted – look out for a seabird feeding frenzy; it could well mean a whale is hunting fish, driving shoals to the surface.

They’re not the only marine heavyweights attracted to the Cornish coast during summer. See that large pale oval shape drifting near the surface? It could be a 20kg barrel jellyfish or a bizarre jellyfish-eating sunfish. These weird creatures can reach 1,000kg in weight! If there’s one big fish story that everyone wants to tell back in Penzance, however, it’s the one about the basking shark that swam right under the boat, all six sinuous metres of it…

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