Exploring the wildlife around the Whitstable Coast on a boat trip can be a delightful experience for wildlife enthusiasts. The coastline, situated on the northeast coast of Kent in England, offers a diverse range of habitats, from mudflats and salt marshes to rocky shores and open waters. Here are some of the wildlife you might encounter on a boat trip along the Whitstable coastline. We do various boat trips from Whitstable.
Birds Kent Coast
- A boat tour from Whitstable Harbour can provide an excellent opportunity for birdwatching, as the area is known for its diverse birdlife. The specific species you might see can vary depending on the time of year, the route of your boat tour, and the prevailing environmental conditions. Here are some of the bird species you might encounter during a boat tour from Whitstable Harbour:
- Common Gull: These gulls are often seen flying around coastal areas and fishing in the sea.
- Herring Gull: Herring gulls are larger gulls commonly found along the coast, often scavenging for food near fishing boats.
- Black-headed Gull: These gulls are named for their distinctive dark heads, which turn brown in the winter.
- Oystercatcher: Oystercatchers are easily recognizable by their black and white plumage and long, bright orange bills.
- Redshank: These waders have striking red legs and a distinctive high-pitched call.
- Curlew: Curlews are large, elegant waders with long, curved bills.
- Eider Duck: Eider ducks are known for their colorful plumage, with the males having a striking black and white pattern.
- Common Scoter: These sea ducks can often be seen diving for food in the water.
- Shelduck: Shelducks are easily identifiable by their distinctive white and green head markings.
- Common Tern: These agile birds are known for their acrobatic fishing dives.
- Little Tern: Smaller than the common tern, little terns are often seen hunting for fish near the coast.
- Peregrine Falcon: Peregrines are known for their incredible speed and are sometimes seen hunting other birds in the area.
- Kestrel: These small falcons can be spotted hovering in search of prey along the coast.
- Herons and Egrets:
- Grey Heron: These tall wading birds can often be seen in marshy areas along the coast.
- Little Egret: Little egrets are smaller than their larger heron relatives and have white plumage.
- Northern Gannet: These large, striking seabirds are known for their impressive plunge-dives into the sea to catch fish.
- Puffins (seasonal):
- In some parts of the UK, including the coastal areas of Whitstable, puffins can be spotted during their breeding season. These charming birds are known for their colorful beaks and are a favorite among birdwatchers.
- Turnstones watching the fishing boats and Whitstable Boat tours popping in and out of Whitstable harbour.
- Keep in mind that birdwatching can be highly seasonal, with different species present during different times of the year, particularly during migration seasons. It’s a good idea to bring binoculars and a bird field guide to enhance your birdwatching experience during the boat tour. Additionally, many tour operators in Whitstable may offer guided tours with knowledgeable naturalists who can help you identify and learn more about the local bird species.
- Whitstable, located on the north coast of Kent, England, offers the opportunity to see seals during boat tours departing from Whitstable Harbour. There are two species of seals that are commonly encountered in the waters of the Thames Estuary and the surrounding coastal areas:
- Common Seal (Harbor Seal – Phoca vitulina): The common seal is the smaller of the two species and is often referred to as the harbor seal. Common seals have a distinctive V-shaped nostril and a dappled, greyish-brown coat. They are known for their curious and playful behavior and are frequently seen hauled out on sandbanks, rocks, and mudflats. During boat tours, you might spot them swimming in the water or resting on these exposed areas.
- Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus): Grey seals are the larger of the two species and are named for their mottled grey coat. They have a distinctive, elongated snout and a more pronounced face compared to common seals. Grey seals are also known for their inquisitive nature, and they can often be observed swimming around the boat or lounging on sandbanks or rocky shores.
- The best time to see seals in the Whitstable area varies with the seasons. Seal-watching is generally more prevalent during the late summer and autumn months, as this is when seal pups are typically born. The pups are often seen on the sandbanks, and this can be an especially rewarding time for wildlife enthusiasts.
- Whitstable boat tours and local wildlife tour operators typically offer seal-watching excursions, and their experienced guides are knowledgeable about the best times and locations for seal sightings. While it’s not guaranteed that you will see seals on every tour, the chances of encountering these captivating marine mammals are quite good, making it a popular activity for visitors to Whitstable. Be sure to check with the tour operator for the latest information and to confirm the best time for seal-watching during your visit.
The waters around Whitstable are teeming with fish, which in turn attract larger predators like seals and seabirds. You might spot various fish species like herring, mackerel, and even the occasional basking shark.
Jellyfish are common in the waters off the coast of Whitstable, and you may encounter several different species while on a boat trip in the area. Some of the jellyfish species that you might come across include:
- Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita): Moon jellyfish are translucent and have a saucer-like, moon-shaped bell. They are one of the most common jellyfish species found in the waters around the UK and are typically harmless to humans.
- Lion’s Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata): The lion’s mane jellyfish is a large and striking species known for its long, trailing tentacles. It can have a reddish or yellowish coloration and may have a painful sting, so it’s important to keep a safe distance if you encounter one.
- Compass Jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella): The compass jellyfish is characterized by its brown or yellowish compass-like pattern on the bell. While their stings are not usually severe, it’s best to avoid contact with their tentacles.
- Blue Jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii): Blue jellyfish, as the name suggests, can be blue, although their coloration can vary. They have long, delicate tentacles and are generally considered to have a mild sting.
- Barrel Jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo): Barrel jellyfish are among the largest jellyfish species in the UK waters, and they have a rounded, barrel-shaped bell. Their tentacles are short, and they are not typically dangerous to humans.
- Compass Jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella): These jellyfish are known for their distinctive compass-like pattern on their bell, with a brown or yellowish hue. Their tentacles can deliver mild stings, so it’s advisable to avoid contact.
- Bluefire Jellyfish (Cyanea lamarckii): Bluefire jellyfish can vary in color, but they often exhibit a blue hue. They have long, trailing tentacles and are generally not considered highly dangerous to humans.
While many of these jellyfish are not highly venomous, it’s essential to exercise caution and avoid contact with their tentacles, as even mild stings can cause discomfort and irritation. If you happen to encounter jellyfish during your boat trip from Whitstable, enjoy the opportunity to observe these fascinating marine creatures from a safe distance. It’s also advisable to consult with local authorities or tour operators for information on current conditions and potential jellyfish sightings in the area during your visit.
- : The rocky shores and inter tidal areas are home to a variety of crabs and other crustaceans. You might see hermit crabs scuttling along the seabed or shore crabs in tidal pools. Whitstable is famous for it’s oysters.
- : The Whitstable coastline features salt marshes and seagrass beds. These areas are home to a variety of marine plants, which in turn provide shelter and food for numerous species of fish and invertebrates.
Dolphins and Porpoises:
- Whitstable boat tours, which explore the waters of the Thames Estuary and the North Sea, offer the opportunity to encounter a variety of marine mammals, including dolphins and porpoises. While sightings are never guaranteed, several species are known to frequent the area. The most commonly sighted species include:
- Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis): Common dolphins are one of the most frequently spotted dolphin species in the waters off the coast of Whitstable. They are known for their distinctive hourglass pattern on each side, which includes a yellowish-tan coloring. Common dolphins are often seen leaping and riding the bow waves created by boats.
- Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): Bottlenose dolphins are larger than common dolphins, and they have a characteristic short, stubby beak or “bottlenose.” These dolphins are known for their playful behavior and are sometimes seen riding the wakes of boats.
- Harbour porpoises are among the smallest marine mammals and are common in the waters around Whitstable. They have a rounded head and are often seen quietly surfacing to breathe. They can be challenging to spot due to their more reserved behavior.
- Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus): While less common, Risso’s dolphins are sometimes spotted in the waters off Whitstable. They are characterized by their pale, scarred skin and tall dorsal fins.
- The best time to see dolphins and porpoises in the Whitstable area is typically during the warmer months, from late spring through early autumn. These marine mammals are more active and may be more abundant during this period. It’s essential to book a boat tour with a reputable operator that specializes in wildlife watching, as they are more likely to know the best locations and times for sightings. Keep in mind that while sightings can be frequent, they are not guaranteed, as the presence of dolphins and porpoises in the wild is subject to various factors, including weather and ocean conditions. Nonetheless, the opportunity to observe these intelligent and playful creatures in their natural habitat is a memorable experience for anyone taking a boat tour from Whitstable Harbour.
- A boat tour from Whitstable Harbour provides a unique perspective to observe coastal flora from the water. While you won’t have the same up-close view as you would when walking along the shoreline, you can still see several interesting features related to coastal flora during your journey. Here are some things you might see:
- Saltmarshes: Whitstable Harbour is surrounded by saltmarshes, which are vital coastal ecosystems. Saltmarsh plants like Sea Lavender, Sea Aster, and Common Reed thrive in these areas. You may spot these plants along the water’s edge as you navigate the saltmarshes.
- Sea Kale (Crambe maritima): Sea kale is a perennial plant native to coastal regions of Europe, including the UK. It has thick, fleshy leaves and produces attractive white flowers. It is adapted to thrive in the harsh coastal environment and is often used in coastal stabilization efforts.
- Sea Campion (Silene uniflora): This perennial wildflower is commonly found on coastal cliffs and shingle beaches. It produces white or pinkish flowers and is known for its tolerance to salt spray and windy conditions.
- Thrift or Sea Pink (Armeria maritima): Thrift is a low-growing, tufted perennial with pink, pom-pom-like flowers. It is a common sight along the rocky shores and cliffs of Whitstable’s coastline.
- Samphire (Salicornia spp.): Samphire is a succulent plant that thrives in saltmarshes and mudflats. It is often used in local cuisine and is known for its salty flavor.
- Sea Aster (Aster tripolium): Sea aster is a perennial plant that produces lilac or pink daisy-like flowers. It is often found in saltmarshes and mudflats, and its young shoots are edible.
- Sea Lavender (Limonium spp.): Sea lavender, also known as statice, is a group of perennial plants that produce small, colorful flowers. They are commonly found in saltmarshes and tidal areas.
- Common Reed (Phragmites australis): While not exclusive to the coast, common reed is often found in wetland areas near the shore. It forms dense stands and provides habitat for various bird species.
To make the most of your wildlife-watching boat trip along the Whitstable coastline, consider going with a knowledgeable guide or naturalist who can provide insights into the local wildlife and help you spot and identify the various species you encounter. here at Whitstable boat trips we will try and spot and point out wild life of interest as we take our boat trips to see the seals or the Maunsell forts. As a boat trip company we are respectful of the environment and wildlife by maintaining a safe distance and adhering to any conservation guidelines or regulations in place.