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SUP spotters’ guide

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The still blue waters, secluded coves and craggy outcrops along from the Bay host an ecosystem full of surprises – best spotted standing a few feet above the surface…

Illustrations by Hannah Bailey

Sup Safari

For a chance at spotting a dolphin pod or gazing at wheeling guillemots, your best bet is to take a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) beyond the reaches of the beach. On a scale from (almost) dead cert (1) to rare sighting (6), here’s what to watch out for round these parts, however you choose to explore…

1. Sea anemone

Amongst the rockpools, dark red sea anemones hide their tentacles when the tide comes in. Look for mysterious gelatinous blobs, that release their wiggling fronds when covered back up by the sea.

Sea Anenome

2. Guillemot

The guillemot lives its life at sea, coming in to land to nest. Look out for a colony, clinging to the cliffs. You’ll know they’re guillemots by their black and white feathers.

Guillemots

3. Mackerel

With their shimmering backs of green and blue stripes, a shoal of mackerel will glisten in the water. Look out for them as they dart beneath the surface in spring and summer.

Mackerel

4. Spider crabs

With a claw span of up to 80cm and a life span of up to 40 years, spider crabs lurk on the seabed. You’ll know them by their size, long limbs and reddish colouring.

Take a look at our recipe for spider crab poke.

Spider Crab

5. Sunfish

A bizarre-looking beauty that, if lucky, you might see ‘sunbathing’ on its side at the sea’s surface. The sunfish comes to our waters in the summer and feasts on jellyfish. Look for its pointy fin and flat round body.

Sunfish

6. Pod of dolphins

The most magical sighting of all, SUP-ers around Watergate Bay have been known to paddle amongst a leaping pod of common dolphins. Sociable and inquisitive, you’ll find them in groups – look out for dancing fins amongst the waves.

Dolphins
Extreme Academy Sup Safari

Learn more about the creatures just off our shores in Inspiring Sea Life and here to find It

The Extreme Academy offers a 3-hour guided SUP Safari – giving you the chance to paddle up to Beacon Cove, snorkel, drink tea and look out for spider crabs for £45. Find out more.

September and October usually bring the right conditions for standup paddleboarding. Calmer seas and lighter winds. Book to stay at Watergate Bay Hotel.