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07 October 2019

WDC Researchers Photo Rare Sighting Of Porpoises Surfing Waves In Wales

WDC Researchers took these rare photos of harbour porpoises surfing the waves off the coast of Wales.

Dolphins are well-known surf-lovers but it is very rare to see the shy little porpoise surfing the waves.

The WDC team was delighted to see some harbour porpoises just below the cliff top on Bardsey Island while looking out for Risso’s dolphins. They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the porpoises surfing the waves!  They followed the porpoises’ dark shapes under the water, just under the surface, swimming with the forming waves, sometimes staying under water and sometimes surfing the crest of the wave.

Five porpoises including a mother and her baby were surfing together for at least half an hour. They certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves. They rode a wave, and then swam further out to catch another one.

The English word ‘porpoise' is derived from the Latin word for pig – porcus. Rather unflatteringly, the harbour porpoise used to be known as the “puffing pig”, because of the sneeze-like puffing sound it makes when it breathes!  

Porpoise surfing the waves in Wales

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