Marine Wildlife Expert Hoping For Bumper 2015 Season

Wildlife guide Paul Semmens

Wildlife guide Paul Semmens

A Cornish wildlife expert is hoping that 2015 will bring more exciting sea life spotting from the deck of the Scillonian.

It’s been eight years since Paul Semmens has seen an orca or a humpback whale from the deck and spotting either would be a highlight, he says.

Paul has offered weekly wildlife commentary and guidance for passengers from the deck of the ferry for the past six years.

Passenger numbers were up in 2014 and that’s meant more eyes on the water, which helps with sightings.

There have been some surprises too. Normally, hundreds of common dolphins are spotted, but last year only around 50 were logged.

But Paul says that the remarkable numbers of Risso’s dolphins made up for that. They were seen two or three times a week last year, when normally there might be just one sighting a month.

And he says he saw pilot whales for the first time last season.

In 2014, the sea temperature was around three degrees warmer, which encouraged large numbers of jellyfish. And their presence brings a wider variety of visiting sea life.

Paul says September seems to be the best month for spotting wildlife, because the sea is warmer and calm. But even in winter, there can be sightings of whales between Cornwall and Scilly.

Paul says there’s could be potential for more sea life trips around Scilly but the problem is guaranteeing paying passengers that they will see something, so they’re not disappointed.

In places like New Zealand, operators can guarantee that they’ll get sightings more than 90% of the time, he says, but that’s probably around 20% in Scilly.

Paul says he hopes to be offering onboard commentary on the Scillonian again this season.