The coastal waters around St Agnes are an incredibly rich feeding ground for some of the World’s most spectacular marine animals including whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and basking sharks.
Bottlenose dolphins and porpoises are regularly seen from St Agnes Head and occasionally other cetacean species are seen including common dolphins, risso’s dolphins and minke whales. Bottlenose dolphins are the species most commonly seen even though there only around 12 animals resident in Cornwall and Devon but due to their large size (2.5 – 4 metres long) and their acrobatic displays they are hard to miss!
In the summer and autumn months the World’s second largest fish the basking shark (only the whale shark is bigger) can sometimes be spotted gliding through the water filtering out tiny plankton on which it feeds. These huge fish can grow to between 10 and 12 metres long and with their enormous mouths open they can look quite fearsome but having no effective teeth they pose no threat to anything bigger than the smallest of fish.
As well as basking sharks the sea between St Agnes and the Bawden Rocks also attracts the World’s largest bony fish, the ocean sunfish (sharks although larger have a cartilage skeleton rather than bone). These exotic disc shaped creatures can grow up to three metres in diameter and can sometimes be seen on the surface lying on their sides with their fins flopping from one side to the other, gulls will sometimes land on them to pick off parasites.
The North coast of Cornwall is one of the best places in the country to see grey seals and is one of their most important breading areas. The seals pup on various inaccessible beaches and caves throughout the year, however, most pups are born in the winter months. Young seal pups are easily identified by their white furry coats. Seals are frequently seen from St Agnes Head and in Trevaunance Cove, sometimes playing with surfers.