Wildlife in Salcombe

Salcombe, located in Devon, is known for its diverse wildlife, particularly due to its coastal and estuarine environments. Here are some key types of wildlife you might encounter in Salcombe:

Bottlenose Dolphins

These dolphins are known for their friendly and playful nature. They are characterised by a robust body, a short beak, and a curved dorsal fin. These dolphins are frequently seen in coastal waters around Devon, especially near Salcombe, Torbay, and Exmouth. They often approach boats, and you might even see them bow-riding and performing acrobatic leaps.

Common Dolphins

These Dolphins are easily Recognisable by their distinctive hourglass pattern on the side of their bodies. They have a more slender build compared to bottlenose dolphins. They are often seen in deeper waters off the coast, particularly in areas like Lyme Bay. They are known for their high-speed swimming and leaping and are often seen in large pods.

Harbour Porpoise

These stunning sea creatures are smaller than dolphins, with a more rounded body and a triangular dorsal fin. They are commonly seen in coastal waters, particularly in areas like Bideford Bay and around the mouth of the River Dart. Shyer and less acrobatic than dolphins, they tend to avoid boats and can be seen alone or in small groups.

Grey Seals

One of the most friendly sea animals, Grey seals are larger than common seals and have a distinctively long, straight nose. Males are darker with lighter spots, while females are lighter with darker spots. Grey seals are commonly seen around the coast of Devon, particularly around Lundy Island and the Exmoor coast.

Sea birds

Devon, with its extensive coastline, estuaries, and diverse marine habitats, is an excellent location for observing a wide variety of seabirds, including Guls, Terns, Gannets, Cormorants, and Oystercatchers.


Beavers have become a symbol of successful wildlife reintroduction and ecological restoration in Devon, showcasing the positive impacts of rewilding efforts on biodiversity and ecosystem health. Beavers thrive in freshwater habitats, particularly slow-moving rivers, streams, and wetlands. Local wildlife trusts and organisations occasionally offer guided tours and events to help people learn about and view beavers in their natural habitat.


Adders are the only venomous snakes native to the UK and are found throughout Devon. They are relatively small snakes with a distinctive zigzag pattern running along their backs and a V—or X-shaped mark on their heads. Males are usually grey with black markings, while females are brown with darker brown markings. Adders favour dry, open areas such as heathlands, moorlands, grasslands, and woodland edges. They are often found basking in sunny spots, relying on external heat sources to regulate their body temperature.

Basking sharks

The basking shark is one of the most fascinating marine creatures found in the waters around Devon. It is the second-largest fish in the world, reaching lengths of up to 12 meters (39 feet). It has a distinctive appearance with a large, conical snout and a massive, gaping mouth. Its bodies are greyish-brown with rough, sandpaper-like skin. Basking sharks are typically seen in Devon waters from late spring to early autumn (May to October) when plankton blooms peak.

Dartmoor ponies

Dartmoor ponies are an iconic and integral part of the Dartmoor landscape in Devon, just a short drive from Salcombe. The ponies are a beloved symbol of Dartmoor and are an essential part of local culture and heritage. Dartmoor ponies live in small herds led by a dominant mare. These herds can be seen grazing together and providing mutual protection. Their coat can come in various colours, including bay, brown, black, grey, and chestnut. They grow a thick winter coat to withstand the harsh conditions on the moor.


Badgers are a vital part of Devon's wildlife heritage. Their presence in the region's woodlands and countryside adds to the rich biodiversity. Badgers can be seen in various locations across Devon, particularly in woodland areas and nature reserves. Some specific places include Halsdon Nature Reserve and Yarner Wood.

There are plenty of Conservation Areas you need to visit as part of your Salcombe trip, including the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Salcombe lies within this protected area, which helps preserve its rich biodiversity.

Salcombe's diverse environments make it a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering numerous opportunities to observe and enjoy a wide variety of species throughout the year.

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