Southwest Bottlenose Dolphin Project

Identifying and monitoring the SW bottlenose population, England's only resident pod of bottlenose dolphin

We are incredibly lucky here in the Southwest of England to regularly see bottlenose dolphins in our waters. Sadly however, there is currently no specific protection offered to this resident population and the establishment of protection measures will only be supported if robust evidence can be provided.

In 2016, the Southwest Bottlenose Dolphin Consortium, a collaborative partnership coordinated by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, was established. This partnership is co-ordinated by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and includes a wide range of groups, organisations, businesses and individuals who have all signed up to contribute their data to better understand our bottlenose dolphins.

The Consortium also has a Steering Group which includes The Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS), Marinelife, Exeter University, Plymouth University, Chelonia Ltd and Marine Discovery.

The aims of this Consortium is to collate both historic data, and to co-ordinate collection of new survey and photographic data. We held a very successful conference in October 2016 with expert workshops which distilled thoughts and helped to formulate our programme of work.

  • Is there a distinct inshore group of bottlenose dolphins in the southwest ?

  • What is the population range of these coastal animals?

  • How many dolphins are in the inshore population?


Project highlights so far

The highlight of the event was from Rebecca Dudley, MRes at University of Plymouth, who has been analysing all sightings and photographic data, collected from a large number of collaborators between 2007 and 2016, to assess the social structure, residency, and distribution of bottlenose dolphins in southwest England. Rebecca introduced our resident group of inshore bottlenose dolphins, a group of approximately 28 animals who regularly use our inshore coastal waters and have a very distinct social group.

Please see the link below for a download of the summary of these findings. This is hugely exciting and the SW Bottlenose Dolphin Consortium hopes to be able to use this evidence to progress work to better protect these animals in our waters.


We are calling on anyone who has bottlenose dolphin records and particularly photographs which could be used for photo identification, to join us in this collaborative project. Please submit any sightings or high res photo ID photos to:

If you have any questions about our bottlenose dolphin work or the consortium please contact;
Ruth Williams, Living Seas Manager, via email or call (01872) 302261.
See also:
Twitter: @rhdudley30

List of collaborators:

We would like to thank all current collaborators, the research conducted to date couldn’t have happened without your involvement:

Marine Discovery Penzance
Sue Sayer and CSGRT volunteers
Chris and Annabelle Lowe, Atlantic Divers
Ben Porter
Billy Heaney
Colin Speedie
Dan Murphy
Ross Wheeler
ERCCIS contributors
Dan Jarvis
Padstow Sealife Safaris


FilenameFile size
SW Bottlenose Dolphin Factsheet1023.57 KB
Marine Acoustics Project Report391.74 KB