Common dolphin: They are found all around the UK but most commonly off the South and West coasts and offshore, and can be seen all year round. They can grow up to 2.7m and weigh up to 150kg. On average, they live up to 35 years. These dolphins are dark grey above and whiter below, with a distinctive hourglass pattern on their sides. Their dorsal fin is tall and triangular and curves slightly backwards.
Bottlenose dolphin: They are found all around the UK and are common in the Moray Firth, Cardigan Bay and off Cornwall. They can grow up to 4m and weigh up to 500kg. On average, they live 45-50 years. They are often spotted close to the shore and alone or in small groups.
Harbour porpoise: This species is found all around the UK. They grow between 1.4m and 2m and weigh 55-65kg. On average, they live up to 20 years. They can easily be spotted close to the shore in shallow water. They will usually be alone or in small groups and are shy, so avoid boats and jet skis.
Minke whale: Minke whales can be spotted in near-shore waters around the UK, although they are rare in the Southern North Sea and English Channel. They are quite a small species of whale, measuring around 7-9m and weighing 5-10 tonnes. On average, they live 40-50 years.
They are generally found alone or in small groups feeding on schools of fish or krill.
Killer whale: A group can be seen across the west coast of the UK and Ireland while a separate population are seasonal visitors to Northern Scotland, particularly the Shetland and Orkney Islands. They can grow up to 9.8m and weigh up to 10 tonnes. On average, they live up to 90 years.
You can spot a killer whale by their black and white markings. However, with just eight resident in UK waters, seeing them is incredibly rare.
Risso’s dolphin: Sightings of Risso’s dolphins in the UK are most common around Scotland, the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Man, but they can also be spotted around Cornwall, south west and north west Wales and Ireland. The species can grow up to 4m long and live between 20 and 40 years.
They enjoy deep offshore waters and have been known to slap their heads or tails on the surface when they breach water.
Humpback whale: There are sporadic sightings of Humpback whales around the UK. This species can grow up to 18m and weigh up to 40 tonnes. On average, they live up to 50 years.
In UK seas, they are usually spotted alone or in pairs and are recognisable by their unique knobbly head and the long, wing-like front flippers which they often raise and slap on the surface.
White-beaked dolphin: Populations can regularly be found in Lyme Bay, around the Hebrides and seasonally off the North East England coast. They can grow up to 3.2m long and weigh up to 350kg. It is not know how long they tend to live for. They are a sociable species and are usually found in groups of five and 10.
Northern bottlenose whale: This species has recently been spotted in North East Scotland, Eastern England, South West Scotland and Inner Hebrides and Northern Ireland. They can grow up to 9.8m and have a bulbous forehead and a dolphin-like, short beak.
Atlantic white-sided dolphin: This species can grow up to 2.8m and have been spotted recently in Shetland, Orkney and North Scotland. They are active at the surface of the sea and commonly breach, although they are less agile than common and striped dolphins.
Fin whale: They have been spotted recently in eastern England, north west England and the Republic of Ireland. They can grow up to 20.5m and have a V-shaped head with a single central ridge.
Long-finned pilot whale: This species have been seen around Shetland and the Republic of Ireland recently. This whale has a square, bulbous head and are slow swimming with a low fin and long flippers.
Beluga whale: A beluga whale is also known as the White Whale and the Sea Canary. There has recently been a sighting of one in Northern Ireland, according to Sea Watch Foundation. They grow up to 4m on average, but can reach 5m. They spend summer in shallow bays and estuaries.
Sowerby’s beaked whale: This species is very difficult to identify at sea. In calm waters, they may lie at the surface allowing one to see the rounded head, prominent beak. Sea Watch Foundation has recorded a possible sighting of this species in eastern England.
Source: Sea Watch Foundation and The Wildlife Trusts