Great Grey Grampuses

Not much is known about the weird and wonderful Risso’s dolphin but now is the best time of year to spend some time seawatching for these incredible visitors

Risso’s dolphins are globally widely distributed and found in waters ranging from the tropics to temperate regions such as North Wales.

They are thought to feed on creatures such as octopus and squid, mostly at night when their prey migrates towards the surface waters at the edges of steep drop-offs and deep trenches.

Not much is known about these incredible creatures however North Wales provide some of the best places in the UK to see them. It is well worth a trip down the Llŷn Peninsula to Bardsey Island or try taking a look from the North Anglesey coast at this time of year.

It is the complex seabed topography that allows them to exploit rich-pickings of food. They are easily recognised by their silvery grey tones and distinct scarring, accumulating over time to give the impression that they have been attacked by a paintbrush.

This scarring is thought to be inflicted by other Risso’s dolphins whilst playing and fighting or by their prey with older individuals appearing almost white. Along with their incredible white linear scarring, one of the most distinctive features which help in identifying this species is that of its tall dorsal fin, one of the tallest in proportion to body length amongst any cetacean species (whale, dolphin or porpoise).

They are often seen rather lazily logging on the surface or travelling slowly with the tidal races which circle our coastline and quite often on sunny days it is the whiteness of their scarring glaring in the sun that catches your eye however, do look out for big splashes as they land after impressive jumps above the surface.

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