At the end of March I was lucky enough to be invited out with Marine Discovery on their sailing catamaran, Shearwater 2, to go looking for wildlife in Mounts Bay. Seven of us members of the Penzance & District Tourism Association took up the offer to be ‘guinea pigs’ so Hannah and Duncan could run through their routine with us before their season really gets going. We were blessed with a perfect sunny day, ideal for spotting wildlife if not for actual sailing!
Visibility was excellent and not long after rounding the head of the quay Hannah, Duncan and their new crew members spotted some bird activity off Mousehole so we headed in that direction to see what was happening. This turned out to be a couple of Black backed gulls fighting some Herring gulls over what we originally thought was fish scraps, it turned out to be a Herring gull wing!!
We then turned to St Clements Island just off Mousehole to see what seals were hauled out in the sun. We saw a couple of regular seals who Hannah and Duncan recognise and who recognise the boat so do not seem bothered as we sail by. There were also one or two young seals who weren’t so happy as we approached so we steered away to let them settle back down to their sun bathing.
After circumnavigating St Clements island and seeing seals, shags and cormorants on the rocks we head straight out into Mounts Bay and it is not long before a large mass of sea birds are spotted a mile or so out.
We all said how nice it was to see the gulls feeding naturally at sea and not on land pinching pasties and ice creams. This mass of birds were feeding on fish pushed to the surface by feeding dolphins and what a show we had. Once the dolphins had finished feeding they came over and played around the boat riding the bow waves and generally looking like they were having a great time showing off.
Eventually we had to tear ourselves away from the dolphins and head back towards land and the Tater Du lighthouse.
As we came closer to shore we also saw a few harbour porpoises, smaller and much more shy than the dolphins, no way I could get any photos with only my phone. Tater Du was built in 1965 after a Spanish coaster was wrecked on near by Boscawen point with the loss of 11 lives in October 1963. Tater Du is Cornwalls newest light house and was built as an automated installation and is now controlled from Trinity House’ planning centre in Harwich, Essex.
Moving back along the coast towards Penzance we could see many caves including ‘The Mousehole’ and one known as ‘The horse in the stable’.
It was so nice to have had a great few hours on the water with friends and colleagues, to be blessed with such great weather and such fantastic views of such a variety of wildlife and right on our doorstep. The dolphins of course stole the show, but the gannets are equally as majestic as they slice through the water after their prey.
I highly recommend a trip out on Shearwater 2 with Marine Discovery, Hannah and Duncan are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about all the wildlife you might spot, you will definitely come back richer in knowledge than when you stepped aboard.