Recent visits from remarkable ocean wildlife spotted off UK coastlines

Date posted: 18 August 2020

By Esme Barber

Local beachgoers and holidaymakers aren’t the only ones to have enjoyed the recent heatwave at our coastlines this month. We’ve had numerous reports of marine life sightings off the UK coast in recent weeks, as the summer weather has tempted an abundance of visits from species including sunfish, swordfish, jellyfish, leatherback turtles and dolphins.

Ocean admirers have sent us their videos and pictures of recent sightings while out enjoying the UK coastline. In the North East of England, at Hartlepool Bay, Paul Whitton sent us his pictures of an ocean sunfish. With all the sunshine we’ve had recently, it’s no surprise that this sunfish was spotted bathing in the rays by the water surface, likely warming itself up after some deep-water hunting.

Paul was thrilled to have seen this sunfish, which usually favours the warmer temperatures of tropical and temperate waters.

He said: “It was fantastic to watch and despite years of using an angling boat (responsibly) it’s the first time we’ve seen one – normally too cold we imagine!”


Up in Edinburgh, in a very rare moment, Marine Biologist Kate O’Neil was treated to spotting an elusive swordfish in Firth of Forth.

Describing the experience, Kate said: “First reports were of a basking shark off an Edinburgh beach, a rare but occasional visitor to the East Coast. After several hours of on and off viewing, it became clear this was definitely something different, and possibly even more unusual. I was really excited when I realised we were most likely watching a swordfish, a species that (to the best of our knowledge) has only been recorded in Scotland a handful of times!”


Meanwhile, in Weymouth Bay, Liz Hemsley filmed stunning scenes of two beautiful dolphins swimming at the water’s surface. Keep your eyes peeled the next time you visit the South Coast of the UK, and you might be lucky enough to spot them too. Dolphins aren’t uncommon visitors.

Feeling inspired to get out and try and see what you can recognise? We want to know about it! We’re especially interested in hearing about sightings of basking sharks, marine turtles and jellyfish in UK and Irish waters. You can report them to us here.

If you do set out to do some ocean wildlife watching, please remember to always give the marine life plenty of space and enjoy the coast safely and responsibly. You can find more tips for responsible beachgoing here.

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