From huge humpback whales to tiny crabs in little rock pools, you don’t have to travel far in summer to see an amazing array of marine wildlife right here in the UK.
Whales and dolphins
UK waters are home to some stunning cetaceans including enormous 15m (50ft) long humpback whales, stylish black and white orca, also known as killer whales, and "superpods" containing hundreds of bottlenose dolphins. Catching some of the most spectacular displays of breaching and tail slapping may be easier than you first think.
During summer there are over 30 species of shark to be found in British and Irish waters. While species like blue sharks, basking sharks and thresher sharks may sound familiar, there are some very exotic-sounding species you may never have heard of, such as velvet belly lanternsharks, leafscale gulper sharks and smoothhounds to name just a few.
The UK coast is a bird magnet in summer, attracting in excess of eight million seabirds looking to breed. Our largest seabird is the northern gannet, but the most colourful and charismatic must be the flamboyant puffin. While there is no such species as a seagull, the UK is home to eight distinct species of gull, some of which have a bad reputation.
It may not always be obvious but a myriad of sea life lives between the high and low tide at our island’s edge, waiting to be discovered. Delve into a rock pool and look for small fish, limpets and of course hermit crabs. But with a little more time and by exploring a little further, you’ll see that the shore is home to a very diverse range of animals from seahorses to otters.
There are two species of seal that are permanent residents in Britain: the grey and the common seal. They often inhabit the same parts of the coastline and can be difficult to tell apart when wet, although grey seals are larger and have a distinctive face with a ‘Roman nose’. Almost half of the world's grey seal population is found around the UK's coasts.
Join Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and a team of marine enthusiasts every morning this week at 09:15 BST on BBC One for Big Blue UK as they follow the animals arriving and thriving in UK waters.
Big Blue Live is the stunning spectacle of the Earth's biggest marine animals arriving in Monterey Bay, California.
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