My Life in Motion


As much as I love travelling, if not more so, I love whales and dolphins. One of the great things that travelling has allowed me to do is to pursue my dream of seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild. I have seen several species of each in various countries, and for once I’d like to focus more on the photographs and videos I’ve obtained of these glorious creatures. Below is a list of all the cetacean species that I’ve seen in my life. Unfortunately I don’t have photographs for all of them, or indeed have good photographs for all of those that I do have, but I’d just like to share my love of whales and dolphins.

  • COMMON BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

This is the species of dolphin that I have seen the most. They live in many parts of the world’s oceans, and I have seen them off the coast of Scotland, South Africa and New Zealand. They are playful and inquisitive and can be found in varying group sizes. I have autopsied a few that washed ashore in South Africa.

  1. SOUTH AFRICA – 2005:

Bottlenose DolphinsBottlenose Dolphins


Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphins


























  1. NEW ZEALAND – 2012:

Bottlenose DolphinBottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

















  1. ECUADOR 2015:

Bottle-nosed dolphins








These shy dolphins are normally not very acrobatic but I was lucky enough to catch on video a rare moment when one jumped out the water. They normally hug the coastline, and I saw a few pods of these along the coast whilst in South Africa in 2005.

  • LONG-BEAKED COMMON DOLPHIN (Delphinus capensis)
  1. SOUTH AFRICA 2005

This is my favourite species of dolphin: I love the hour-glass pattern on their body, which makes them look beautiful. I was lucky enough to see a massive pod of these in the deep ocean water off the coast of South Africa in 2005. Unfortunately, the sea was so rough and they travelled past the boat at such speed that I did not manage to get any photos of them.

  1. SCOTLAND 2016

Accompanying a feeding humpback whale and some white-beaked dolphins, it was a pleasure to see this species in the wild again.

Common dolphin






  • HECTOR’S DOLPHIN (Cephalorhynchus hectori)

These are one of the smallest species of dolphins, and they are highly endangered. They also live exclusively off the coast of New Zealand, and I have been lucky enough to see them several times in both 2012 and 2013.

Hector's DolphinsHector's Dolphin

Hector's Dolphin

Hector's Dolphin









Hector's Dolphin

Hector's Dolphin

Hector's Dolphin





























  • DUSKY DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus obscuris)

Unfortunately I was suffering acute sea sickness on the trip that I saw these guys in 2013 (for the full story, read here). This is the one and only photograph I was able to take, and you can barely tell that there are 2 dolphins there.

Dusky dolphins







  • HARBOUR PORPOISE (Phocaena sinus)

Whilst on the ferry between North Uist and Skye in 2010, two islands off the west coast of Scotland, the ferry was followed by some porpoises that enjoyed the waves. I was too busy enjoying watching them frolic and play to take any photographs. Since then, I have seen the off individual on a couple of boat trips off the west coast of Scotland in 2016.

  • WHITE-BEAKED DOLPHINS (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)

Whilst searching for humpback whales off the west coast of Scotland, these guys joined in the feeding.

White beaked dolphins in Scottish waters







  • KILLER WHALE (Orcinus Orca)
  1. CANADA 2002:

I was lucky enough to see 3 super pods of Orca, an estimated 200 animals, off the coast of Vancouver Island in 2002. It was an amazing experience, and they are truly beautiful and mesmerising creatures. I am firmly against the keeping of these creatures in captivity, and it breaks my heart to know the treatment that has been endured by some individuals. The movie Blackfish is a real eye opener to their plight. I can still remember bobbing around on the Pacific Ocean surrounded by Orcas as far as the eye could see. The photographs are the good old fashioned pre-digital kind which require to be scanned onto the computer so they will follow in due course.

  1. ECUADOR 2015:

I wasn’t expecting it, but I was utterly excited to get a brief sighting of these amazing mammals. Look closely, and I promise there are two dorsal fins there!

Orca (fin tips just visible)







  • COMMON MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

I have only ever seen 1 minke whale in the far distance whilst on a boat off the west coast of Scotland in 2006. It was too far away to get a decent picture.

  • HUMPBACK WHALE (Megaptera novaeangliae)

The majestic humpack whale is my favourite marine animal, and my favourite species of whale. Again, I have been lucky enough to see them multiple times in both South Africa and Australia. I was even privileged to take part in the autopsy of a humpback whale that washed ashore in South Africa.

  1. SOUTH AFRICA – 2005:

Humpabck WhaleHumpback whales

Humpback Whale

Humpack Whales

Humpack Whale

Juvenile Male Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale










Humpback Whales

Autopsying a Humpback Whale

The inner ear bone of a humpback whale






































  1. AUSTRALIA – 2012:

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

Humpack Whale

Humpback Whales

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale
































  1. ECUADOR 2015:

Humpback Whale mother and calf

Humpack whale near the coast












  1. SCOTLAND, 2016

It is not that common an occurrence to see humpback whales off the coast of Scotland, but for several weeks, the sightings were very regular indeed.

Humpback whale off the west coast of Scotland

Humpback whale fin slapping












  1. ICELAND, 2016

Witnessed on a trip from Husavik, in the north of Iceland, this is the furthest north on the planet that I have been.

Humpback whale, Iceland

Humpback whale fluking as it dives












  • SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE (Eubalaena australis)

These strange looking creatures come into sheltered bays to give birth to their calves. This has allowed me to view them several times, and I was witness to several of them in South Africa and whilst in Argentina, I saw a mother with a white calf. I have found them to be very inquisitive whales, and they often seem keen to come near the boat and investigate. On one trip in South Africa, a juvenile bull whale practiced his courtship with the hull of our boat, rolling over and touching his fin to the hull.

  1. SOUTH AFRICA – 2005:

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whales
































  1. ARGENTINA – 2010:

Southern Right Whale calf

Mother Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale calf

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale

The white calf

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale calf















































  • BRYDE’S WHALE (Balaenoptera brydei)
  1. SOUTH AFRICA – 2005

With a similar body shape to Minke whales, these are very shy whales, proving very difficult to find. I managed to see one almost by chance when assisting on a research trip in South Africa 2005. It spent little time at the surface, and moved around so much that I was unable to take any photographs of it.

  1. NEW ZEALAND – 2015

Bryde whale lunge feeding

Bryde Whale

Bryde whale near Coromandel

















  • SPERM WHALE (Physeter macrocephalus)

This is the largest species of whale that I have seen, finally seeing a couple in 2013 both from the air and from the sea off the coast of New Zealand. They remain on the surface only to re-oxygenate their blood prior to long dives down into the depths of the sea in search of food. I loved getting to see all of the whale from the air, but unfortunately, the trip out to sea was the same trip I saw the dusky dolphins, so the experience was rather marred by the sea sickness that I was suffering from.

Sperm WhaleSperm Whale

Sperm Whale

Sperm Whale

Sperm WhaleSperm Whale

Sperm Whale diving


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12 thoughts on “Cetaceans

  1. I hadn’t seen a whale or dolphin in person, much less in the wild, before visiting South Africa this summer. Being able to look out at the ocean and see Southern Rights and Humpbacks was truly amazing! They are some of the most majestic and incredible animals on the planet!

    • Plett is still my top destination to see cetaceans in the wild. Such a beautiful location to see such beautiful creatures, glad to hear you got to see some there.

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  4. Wow – you have really seen you fair share of whales and dolphins. That is awesome:) It never gets old for me – every time is special and I always get excited like a kid!

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