Devon

High-jumping Devon dolphins surprise kayaker

Dolphin Image copyright Rupert Kirkwood
Image caption Rupert Kirkwood said he had a "fantastic day" off Berry Head

Pictures of dolphins leaping into the air were captured by a kayaker off south Devon.

Rupert Kirkwood, who blogs about what he spots while kayaking, set off early from Brixham hoping to see dolphins off Berry Head.

But he was not prepared for what he found, saying he had "never seen so many repeated high jumps".

Mr Kirkwood, 59, from Holsworthy, Devon, made headlines when he filmed a humpback whale breaching off Penzance.

Dolphin Image copyright Rupert Kirkwood
Image caption Dolphins swam under the kayak before leaping into the air

The former vet, who spotted the dolphins on Wednesday, said he thought the leaps were up to 12ft (3.6m) high.

"One seemed to be particularly 'skippy' and I saw it put in a huge jump when I was still half a mile away in my kayak," he said.

"They came closer, swam underneath my kayak and then every so often one did a massive leap. Wow - what a thrill."

He added it had been a "fantastic day" and he had seen more than 30 dolphins and 14 porpoises in total.

Dolphin Image copyright Rupert Kirkwood
Image caption Mr Kirkwood believes the same dolphin could have been behind the acrobatics

Mr Kirkwood, who estimates he has clocked up more than 20,000 miles of paddling in kayaks, also had a close encounter with a seal last summer when it clambered onboard for a rest.

He admitted that it had been a bumper year.

"It's just incredibly rare for a kayaker to see them because they rarely come within several miles of shore and if I can share my enthusiasm that's fine for me," he said.

Dolphin Image copyright Rupert Kirkwood
Image caption Rupert Kirkwood was "in the right place at the right time", the Devon Wildlife Trust said

Devon Wildlife Trust confirmed the leaping animal was a common dolphin.

"They breach quite a lot but usually around bigger ships so it's quite unusual for a kayaker to see them," said a spokesman.

"But if they think there is a really good meal they will come further in.

"It looks like he was in the right place at the right time.

"It just shows that these things are going on and it's a privilege to see such a wonderful natural spectacle."

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