Our ocean giants

Minke whale © Tom Marshall

Ever wondered what lies beneath the big expanse of the North Sea? Our seas are alive. Just below the waves may be an inquisitive grey seal, or catching the sunlight, a glint of a harbour porpoise’s fin. Add to this the chance of dolphins and maybe even a minke whale too, then there’s no excuse not to stretch your sea legs! The dedicated Living Seas Centre will set you on the right course.

WHAT CAN I SEE?

You are most likely to see harbour porpoises, common dolphins and minke whales from the Yorkshire coastline. Humpback, sei and fin whales have all been seen on whale watching boat trips.

PROBABILITY OF SIGHTINGS

Land based sightings are low - there are rises in the number of sightings when there are a number of individuals around, so the best bet is to keep a close eye on social media and prepare to be flexible.

Boat trips have a much higher chance of seeing whales, dolphins and harbour porpoises - no trip is entitely guaranteed but in peak season (August and September) pretty much all boat trips will see whales, dolphins or porpoises.

WHEN SHOULD I GO?

Best months: AUGUST, SEPTEMBER

Cetaceans (whales and dolphins) can be seen all year round off our coastline, but do undertake seasonal migrations making them easier to see at certain times of year. August and September are the peak times to see whales,
and the best time to take a whale watching boat trip.

Land based sightings of harbour porpoises peak between July and October.

WHERE SHOULD I GO?

Whilst cetacean spottings are quite frequent from the land, you'll get the best views on a boat trip. The best boat trip operators are the Whitby Whale Watching Centre and the cetacean safaris run by Yorkshire Coast Nature.

There's a chance that you might see seals or cetaceans at any point along the Yorkshire coastline, but the best places to go are Flamborough Headland and Spurn where the coastline sticks out furthest into the North Sea.

Calm days, when the surface of the sea is like a mill pond, are the best for spotting whales and dolphins. Look out for distinctive grey triangular fins breaking the surface.

WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE A DAY OF IT?

Sea watching is easily incorporated into a visit to any of the main sites of the Triangle along the coastline. Visit the Flamborough Headland, Hornsea Mere or Spurn