Saving up for a big whale watching trip? Desperate to see dolphins? Chances are you’ve probably not considered doing this in the UK, have you?
A week ago I shared a link on Twitter uploaded by the Marine Conservation Society.
As someone who loves the ocean and writes regularly about marine conservation, I was shocked that I hadn’t know the seas around the UK were home to orcas and humpback whales.
But I’m not alone. A survey by Snaptrip has found that the vast majority of the British public are unaware that species like these can be found in our seas.
That’s not all. Apparently we’re unaware of our own terrestrial wildlife too.
Did you know that coati have been spotted in the Lake District?
Do you even know what a coati IS?!
(Don’t worry, I didn’t either. It’s a member of the racoon family with a distinctive ringed tail and they only grow to about 69cm. Google them – they’re pretty cute!)
Furthermore, did you think wallabies were only in Australia?
Shame on you. They’re also native species in southern England, the midlands, Wales and Scotland.
It’s interesting just how much we underestimate the nature of our little island.
I would love to do a whale watching trip but I never even considered taking a trip to Scotland or the Shetland Islands to see a humpback whale. I knew it was the place to go to see puffins and dolphins, sure, but whales? No.
According to this survey, I’m not alone. I spoke to friends recently about doing boat trips in the West Country to spot the incredible basking shark. Most of them looked at me incredulously. Sharks? In British waters?
In my opinion, we don’t realise just what amazing wildlife we have in the U.K. because we have a penchant for the exotic – and who could call a British animal exotic?
We love whales and dolphins but we associate them with warm destinations abroad.
Would you consider the sand lizard a UK native? Chances are you wouldn’t – 74% of people surveyed said no. Again, it’s a creature we associate with warmer climes; something far more exotic than our ‘traditional’ wildlife.
As a result, the sand lizard lives along the southern coasts largely under the radar. Another ‘exotic’ creature.
It’s mad really. Every living creature is amazing in it’s own right and we’re lucky that our island is home to a variety of incredible mammals and sealife. From eagles to harbour seals, foxes to basking sharks, deer to orca… there’s so much to see if only we could stop to look.
So next time you’re planning a trip around wildlife, consider a staycation and explore an area of the UK you’ve never been to before.
Who knows what you might find.