A PENARTH man has spoken of his shock after spotting what he believes was a dolphin playing in the waters off the coast of Lavernock Point.

Derek Wooding, 54, was taking an evening stroll with his partner Julie Bointon along Cliff Walk on Monday, August 11, when he spotted what he believed was the friendly mammal at around 6pm.

The couple were on the path to Lavernock Point, near the ‘rany pool’ where fishermen usually pitch up, as they were walking to The Captain’s Wife in Sully at the time.

But a dolphin expert has warned that it was more likely that Mr Wooding saw a harbour porpoise, which is a smaller relative of the dolphin species, that is more commonly seen around headlands and shallower waters like Lavernock Point.

“It was quite an eye-opener for us,” said Mr Wooding

“I’ve never seen a dolphin in Penarth before and I’ve lived here 40 odd years.

“I think it’s quite unusual seeing a dolphin in Penarth.”

Mr Wooding, of Sully Terrace, added: “My girlfriend spotted it first and when I looked I could see it going in and out of the water.

“I have seen them in Tenerife and I know what they look like.

“It was definitely a dolphin without a shadow of a doubt.”

Dolphin expert Sarah Perry, a science officer at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay, Ceredigion, which is famous for bottlenose dolphins, said it was unlikely that Mr Wooding had spotted a dolphin.

She said that it was more likely that he had seen a harbour porpoise, which is smaller and more common in shallower waters, as dolphins were usually seen in deeper waters like the Irish Sea, off the coast of Pembrokeshire and the Celtic Sea (an area of sea in between Ireland and Wales).

She added that harbour porpoises were “quite common” around the coast of the UK and Wales, and said: “People know a lot less about them than dolphins as they are not quite as enigmatic.

"They are also more difficult to spot as they are smaller and often seen feeding in very active tide areas.”

She added: “Around the Welsh coastline we mainly see harbour porpoises and in Cardigan Bay bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises, but there are occasional sightings inshore or around islands of common dolphins and rissos dolphins.”