Marine Sightings

Marine Sightings

In 2015 we launched two new marine sightings forms.
These were developed with the help and advice of Jessi Jennings, (the then Marine Biology Section Secretary of La Société) and Paul Veron (of the Ornithology Section) and well-known expert on our local sea birds.
Both forms are editable PDFs so you can fill them in online or on a Laptop/tablet etc. and email them to us.
You can also print the forms and fill them in by hand and post them to us, or scan them and email them.


  • Marine Birds Form

    Record marine birds like puffins, terns, shearwaters. Can't see the species name? Just pop it in the other section.

  • Marine Mammals, Fish & Jellyfish

    You can record dolphins, whales, seals, shark, sun fish, jellyfish or any other species you see.

Why do we want your sightings?

Recording is important so that we can understand how marine mammals, birds and fish use our waters.
As we collect more data, we are starting to have a clearer idea of when and where different species congregate and feed so that we can work with the States of Guernsey and marine users to help our wildlife survive and thrive.

A curious seal

Pinnipeds - seals, sea lions, walruses, etc. are members of the order Carnivora, and the suborder Caniformia, which literally means "dog-like carnivores"
You can argue they are literally sea dogs and indeed in many languages seals are called sea dogs, dogs of the sea, water dogs. Many species are trainable like dogs as well.

Observing marine wildlife

Sea Watch Foundation have lots of ID resources on their website, including a summary guide for the 16 most commonly seen UK whale and dolphin species. You can view or download a copy from their website here! There is also an excellent guide to the UK Cetaceans and Seals produced by the Field Studies Council (FSC). It was produced in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation and is available to purchase from the FSC website here.

Top Tip

Use binoculars to get the best views of seals, whales and dolphins.

Cetaceans in particular and marine life in general are facing increasing pressures on their environment – disturbance from vessels, especially high speed vessels, accidental capture in fishing equipment, pollution, including noise pollution. With more people enjoying recreational activities on the sea we run the risk of being a threat to wildlife, by either directly injuring animals through collision with vessels or by stressing them with the noise from propellers and motors. Boats and wildlife can co-exist if we follow some simple rules.

Some simple rules to follow:

  1. REMEMBER to allow the whales, dolphins or seals to decide what happens.
  2. KEEP your distance! Especially if other vessels are in the vicinity.
  3. NEVER go closer than 200 metres to seals or seal haul-outs and 100 metres to whales and dolphins (200 metres if another boat is present).
  4. ALWAYS allow cetaceans an escape route. Avoid boxing them in between vessels.
  5. PLEASE don’t over crowd. A maximum of three vessels should observe marine animals at any one time.
  6. MAINTAIN a steady direction and slow ‘no wake’ speed.
  7. NEVER approach whales and dolphins head-on to or move between, scatter or separate individuals. If unsure of their movements, simply stop and put the engine into neutral.
  8. IF whales or dolphins approach your boat or bow-ride, maintain a slow speed and course until clear. Whales and dolphins should never be chased or harassed in an attempt to make them bow-ride.
  9. SPECIAL care must be taken with mothers and young, and around whales that are feeding or resting, as they are particularly sensitive to disturbance.
  10. NEVER try to swim with or touch seals, whales and dolphins, for your safety and theirs. They are wild animals, they are larger than humans and can cause unwitting injury. Cetaceans and seals can carry diseases that are transmittable to humans.
  11. DO NOT FEED whales, dolphins or seals.
  12. DO NOT dispose of any rubbish or contaminants in the sea.
“Seals are like toddlers, they will put anything in their mouth. You should never swim over to where they are because that's when you get issues. The main concern is that they could misinterpret an action as a supposed threat.
They are very gorgeous to look at and that's what we should be doing, looking at them and not getting close to them”
Gill Bell, seal expert
Head of Conservation at the Marine Conservation Society in Wales, 2016

Grey Seal at Petit Port - 18th August 2019

"While picking up marine litter at Petit Port yesterday evening I had the pleasure of a visit by a seal at 7.40 pm. I have seen washed-up conger eels on the Petit Port shore with bite marks out of their tails, or missing their tails entirely. I have seen also a large seal carcass washed up so there's evidence that seals frequent the area. The seal popped up four or five times. Regrettably I didn't have a zoom lens with me, thinking I wouldn't need it!"
© Richard Lord