Not strictly seasonal visitors to the Pembrokeshire coast, there are a number of whales and dolphins that can be seen in the Irish Sea. Among those sighted regularly are harbour porpoise, common, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphin. Indeed the Irish Sea has one of the most important populations in the UK of bottlenose dolphins, and a significant concentration of harbour porpoise.
Why do these mammals use the Irish Sea? The waters around the Pembrokeshire coast are stirred by strong tidal currents which circulate nutrients, and make the waters rich in sea life, perfect feeding for dolphins and whales. During the summer, weather and sea conditions combine to draw into the Irish Sea plankton, fish and squid in large numbers. This attracts marine mammals that would normally only be seen in the open ocean. Species include minke whale, fin whale, pilot whale and short-beaked common dolphin.
What is the best way to see these creatures? Sightings are possible from the coast path, and the offshore islands. Boat trips are also available from St. Justinians and Solva. The Sea Trust of South and West Wales uses the cross-channel ferry from Fishguard to monitor whales and dolphins.