Risso Dolphins around the Cornish Coast

See Risso Dolphins and much more in Cornwall with Orca Sea Safaris.


Risso's Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

We are lucky in Cornwall to have a marine environment which is rich with a wide variety of mammals.


Not much is known about this species as they seldom interact with boats. They are a treat to see in Cornwall as they don't appear very often. We have been very lucky in spotting 2 pods in the past. Risso's normally occur in pods of between 3 and 30 individuals but 'super-pods' have been seen before consisting of thousands of dolphins.

How to identify a Risso's Dolphin:

  • 2.5- 4 metres in length
  • Very tall, curved dorsal fin
  • Normally inhabit off-shore areas
  • Pale skin which gets marked very easily by playing with other dolphins, squid bites and parasites, so they appear scratched

Feeding and Distribution:
Risso's mainly eat squid due to their off-shore habitat. It is presumed that they feed mainly at night, as this is when their prey will migrate vertically from the bottom of the ocean. They are found in both hemispheres across temperate and tropical oceans. In UK waters, they are most often seen on the west coast and within 11km of the shore.

Threats and Conservation:
Risso's were formally thought to be rare, but this was due to their off-shore location meaning there was a lack of data. They are now thought to be fairly abundant, however the IUCN still classify the species as Data Deficient. Risso's are directly targeted in fisheries in Sri Lanka for human consumption and until recently, also in Taiwan. In most areas of the world however, they are more likely to be under threat from accidental catch in fisheries.