Keep an eye out for seals at the Lizard watchpoint

A young female grey seal on the beach

If there is one absolute must see on the Lizard’s marine wildlife tick list, it has to be the sight of a seal ‘bottling’.

Did you know seals fall asleep sitting vertically in the water, floating and bobbing around rather like a bottle might? The longer they sleep, the lower they sink until (by this time well into the land of nod, presumably dreaming of a fish banquet and a sun-drenched rock), they are deep under the water.  
 
When their oxygen levels reach a critical level, their rear flippers twitch and propel them back to the surface – not that they wake up, of course. Then they bob around for a little longer, sink, pop back up and so on. Fun, eh?  
 

Wildlife Watchpoint at the Lizard

 
The best bet for catching this joyous performance is a visit to our Wildlife Watchpoint in Britain’s most southerly building. It’s easy to find from Lizard village – basically, er, just head south!  
Learning more at Lizard Point wildlife watchpoint
Learning more at Lizard Point wildlife watchpoint

You’ll find a bench there for dry days and a hut with big windows for when you’d rather shelter, and you’re highly likely to find one of our thirty volunteers there too, keen to point your gaze in the right direction.

What do people say about the watchpoint? 

Full-time volunteer Rosie Bowman, raised on the Isle of Man but sold to the Lizard’s salty charms, is getting to know the seasonal rhythms well. 
  
“June is all about colour. I love the mix of the vivid purple dewplants and tree mallow against the white sea campion. In spring or autumn, the migrating puffins are a big crowd pleaser.” 
 
Ryan Doggart, a National Trust Ranger, has spent countless hut hours in all weathers sharing his knowledge with passers-by. 
 
“My favourite sight is the skua bird – known as the pirate of the sea. It deliberately catches the wing tip of a gannet to throw it off balance and steal the fish in its mouth. The gannet, with its two-metre wingspan, plummets to the sea and drops its meal. The skua, smaller than your average seagull, swoops down and snatches up an easy supper. You’d be lucky to catch such an amazing display, but if you do, you’ll never forget it.
 
“My other favourite is the Manx Shearwater. They fly low to the water, banking like a fighter jet from side to side to catch the thermals coming off the waves. They’re black on top, white underneath, so you see an alternating flash. We sometimes get thousands of them a day. Incredible.”  
 

Building a conservation picture of the Lizard 

 
As well as talking to visitors, the Wildlife Watchpointers write down what’s been spotted each day. This important data feeds into environmental records at the British Trust for Ornithology and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, crucial statistics for building a comprehensive conservation picture on the Lizard.