The animals that UK residents live unaware of

Date posted: 28 June 2018

A survey by MCS supporter Snaptrip finds that the vast majority of the UK public are unaware that animals like orca and humpback can be found in UK seas. Several terrestrial animals fare even less well in the public consciousness - top marks if you knew that coati have been spotted in the Lake District! - but few people are aware of the existence of several marine species. Some better-known ones, such as the puffin, have been seen by less than a fifth of respondents.

It is really worth planning your holidays to coincide with opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat…you just need to be in the know about where to go!

Richard Harrington
Puffin Skomer Island
© Neill Schofield

Out of 20 rare UK animals, Brits would most like to see killer whale (39%), dolphins (35%), golden eagle (34%), humpback whale (31%) and red squirrel (18%).

Just 18% have been fortunate enough to spot either a dolphin or a puffin.

The sand lizard, found largely on southern coasts, lives here under the radar with 74% of people not identifying it as a UK native.

The least-seen animals are killer and humpback whales, along with the hoopoe, with a mere 1% of lucky respondents revealing they have seen them in the UK. has created a map and guide to reveal where some unusual, rare and elusive animals can be spotted across the UK, and is encouraging people to take a UK safari this summer.

Matt Fox, founder at, said: “The UK has so much to offer, and it’s clear that while we’re all aware of the many amazing cities and beaches, we’re not so clued up when it comes to the wild animals that we can find in our country!”

“With so many incredible animals waiting to be spotted, we’re encouraging people to take their very own UK safari. We’ve created an interactive guide with the help of the Marine Conservation Society, to share exactly how holidaymakers can glimpse them for themselves.”

With so many Brits being unaware of the variety of animals that can be spotted in the wild in the UK, it’s no surprise that two thirds were shocked by the wide variety that exists in the country.

Richard Harrington, Head of Communications at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “UK wildlife is captivating and fascinating, and rivals anything you can find in other parts of the world. It is really worth planning your holidays to coincide with opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat. For example the humpback whale, though extremely rare here, might be found to the west of the UK in spring and autumn. Bottlenose dolphins can be found year round - you just need to be in the know about where to go!

“Your best bet to spot any marine life is from a boat, but they can be spotted from high above too. Prominent headlands like Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast, Cape Cornwall and Lleyn Peninsula as well as islands such as Ramsey in Pembrokeshire and parts of both the Outer and Inner Hebrides are great places to see dolphins and whales from dry land.”

See more at

The UK Government is running a consultation to decide whether 41 places in English seas, hosting many wonderful animals including dolphins, whales and sharks, will become protected as Marine Conservation Zones - read more at

Actions you can take

  1. Report your wildlife sightings

Did you know?…

Over 1,000 marine wildlife sightings were reported to MCS last year