South Wales Porpoise Project


The Harbour Porpoise is the smallest member of the whale and dolphin family, measuring less than 2 metres in length.  It feeds exclusively on fish and can often be seen close inshore, pursuing prey in the strong tidal currents at rocky headlands.

South west Pembrokeshire is well known as one of the most important Porpoise areas of the north-east Atlantic but little is known about their occurrence off the coast of South Wales.  Although Porpoise are frequently seen, they are shy and secretive animals - unlike dolphins, they rarely behave spectacularly or come to boats - and are difficult to study.


Harbour Porpoise by Dr Kevin  Robinson (

The porpoise has been identified as a local biodiversity action plan species. Yet, amazingly, little is known about this important social predator. Many basic questions remain to be answered: how many use our coasts, where and when do they feed, how far do they travel, do they breed here?

The South Wales Porpoise Project aims to find answers to these questions. Enabled by joint working between Local Biodiversity Action Plan Partnerships in South Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales, this practical project has been collecting information since December 2002.


Investigative Techniques:

POD with anchor chain and floats We have deployed TPODs, self contained, programmable, sub-marine hydrophones with on-board data logging at various sites across our study area. 

In 2003, we expanded our work to include logging with IFAW hydrophones, using their custom written data logging and porpoise detection software. We are still wrestling with the vast amount of additional data this has created.

Watching from Burry Holms We organise regular sea-watches from key vantage points (Burry Holms, Port Eynon Point, Sker Point).  In addition, casual sightings records - of any marine mammals - are also very useful and welcome, and can be sent in by email. Key information to note is "what, where and when".

For further details about the project, including opportunities for volunteer involvement, send us an email. There are often places on the survey boat for anyone who can cope with a 7am start from Swansea Marina and up to 12 hours at sea.


Latest News:

The project has been running and expanding now for three years. Along the way, there have been many changes in how the team operates. We have also expanded the range of data we are collecting. A report on our first year's findings is now available for download.  [more]


Porpoise Links


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