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Fulmars around the Cornish Coast

Generally seen in the Autumn around the Helford Area on Orca Sea Safaris.


Fulmars in Cornwall

We are lucky to have a rich variety of habitats on our doorstop, attracting many different species of birds, both as residents and migrants passing through.

Rugged cliffs, muddy creeks, salt-marsh, sandy and rocky shores, sheltered coves and freshwater means a wide range of species can be seen on our trips:

  • Gannet
  • Fulmar
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Guillemot
  • Cormorants and Shags

Bring your binoculars and see how many species you can spot!


Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

Fulmars are striking birds, with a black smudge around the eyes, and very elegant as they glide over the ocean on currents of air. We mostly see them from spring through to early autumn around the coast of Cornwall. There is a particular colony near the Helford river which we love visiting on our sea safaris. The name 'fulmar' means 'foul gull' due to their tendency to spit fishy stomach oil at anyone who gets too close to their nest!


  • Grey feathers on the tops of their wings and back, white feathers underneath.
  • Very stiff, straight wings, measuring up to 50cm.
  • Dark eye smudge
  • Pronounced nostrils on top of the bill

Breeding and Distribution:
They breed all around the British and Irish coasts and after the breeding season during winter, the birds will fly offshore to the north Atlantic. Fulmars have the same mate for life, unless one dies. Young birds are independent from when they can fly at 46 days old. They head offshore and may not return to the breeding colony for up to 5 years.

Recent population declines in Shetland appear to have been caused by climate change. As the sea temperature is rising, plankton cannot survive which affects the whole food chain.