One of the great pleasures about the Island is the accessibility and opportunity to watch marine life of all sorts.
Marine megafauna commonly found in Manx waters include basking sharks, cetaceans, such as whales dolphins and porpoises, and seals.
Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world and the Isle of Man is a global hotspot for them. During May to August, basking sharks visit our shores and these magnificent animals can often be seen from the shore on the west coast, at places like Peel Castle, Niarbyl, Bradda Head, Port Erin.
Cetaceans, the collective term for porpoise, whales and dolphins, can often be seen off the Island's coast. The most commonly seen cetaceans around the Isle of Man are the harbour porpoise, Risso’s dolphin, minke whale, bottlenose dolphin and common dolphin.
There are two species of seal found around the Isle of Man – the Atlantic Grey seal, and its slightly smaller cousin, the Common Seal. Contrary to its name, the Common seal is much scarcer around the Island than the Grey – on average there is about 10 grey seals for every Common seal. Both species of seal can be seen around the Island, and the Calf of Man is a particular hot spot for them during breeding season (September to December).
Marine Protected Areas
The Isle of Man currently has ten Marine Protected Areas around our coast, encompassing 10.4% of Manx waters. Five are designated as Fisheries Closed or Restricted areas, primarily for the enhancement of the scallop stocks. The sixth is a Marine Nature Reserve, designated primarily for conservation and for fisheries management. More recently, four Conservation Zones have been designated to protect important species and habitats from mobile fishing gear.
Around the Chasms and the Sugarloaf, south of Port St Mary, there are cliff-side colonies of seabirds with razorbills, guillemots and fulmars who, during the nesting season, fill the air with the sight and sound of their noisy chatter.
In the UK the opportunities to see chough are very scarce, yet here too you may see flocks of these birds, sometimes 40-50 strong, wheeling their way along the cliff line, over the banks of thrift and sea pink, on their way towards Santon Head or the Sound. Read more about Manx seabirds here.
Under the Waves
The clean, plankton-rich waters surrounding the Isle of Man contain many underwater marine habitats.
Spectacular underwater cliffs, rocky reefs, kelp forests, sea grass, maerl and horse mussel beds support a remarkable diversity of life. This wonderful underwater scenery and rich marine life attracts scuba divers from all over the world. Read more about our underwater habitats and how to explore them here.
Non-native Invasive Species
Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) are any living organisms that have been transported outside of their natural range, by human activities or naturally. Help us learn more about marine invasive non-native species -- find out what to look for and how to report your sightings to us.