Playful mammals in the waters off Combe Martin are a hit with locals and tourist.

The dolphins at Combe Martin, photographed by Andrew Pettey.The dolphins at Combe Martin, photographed by Andrew Pettey.

A family of playful dolphins have been providing magical memories for visitors to the waters off Combe Martin Bay during the past week.

A millpond sea and great sunsets have given boat passengers, kayakers and other water users the perfect opportunity for some stunning photographs that would not look out of place in the Caribbean.

There have been several dolphin reports, but the biggest crowd pleaser seems to be a large male nicknamed ‘Dave’, who together with his mate and calf is regularly spotted in the waters between Watermouth and Combe Martin.

Paul Hutchings, who together with brother Mark and two others runs Ilfracombe Sea Safaris aboard the Lundy Explorer, said his presence had been great for them.

“Taking people out there is absolutely brilliant, he plays up for us all the time,” he told the Gazette on Friday.

“At the moment you can pretty much guarantee he is going to be there and he comes right next to the boat. We have spotted his ‘wife’ and baby, but he is the one that’s constantly playing up for people.

“He is obviously quite old and the biggest bottle-nosed dolphin I have ever seen.”

Peter Robinson, who runs the Museum of British Surfing in Braunton, was out on a stand up paddleboard with his wife Bianca when they spotted the dolphins feeding in the bay.

The dolphins at Combe Martin, photographed by Andrew Pettey.The dolphins at Combe Martin, photographed by Andrew Pettey.

“It was completely and truly magical,” he said.

“I’ve seen dolphins before but this was the first time I had seen them feeding.

“It was racing under the water and caught a bass about two feet long, which is was throwing into the air and diving under with.

“We kept our distance because we didn’t want to disturb it.

“But as soon as it saw the pleasure boat it headed straight for it and started showing off, jumping about 15 feet into the air for everyone on board to see.

“We saw them out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and it was just incredible.”

The amazing picture featured here was taken by Paul Rogers while aboard the Ilfracombe Princess, chartered on Thursday evening by Tim Cox and his friends for ‘Tim’s Sunset Cruise’.

“It was something I organised with Paul Barbeary for all my friends,” said Tim, “everybody seemed to enjoy it, we had a damn good night and I certainly enjoyed it.”

Tim’s friend Frank Pearson, who was also on board, said with the mirror calm sea and people on stand up paddle boards, it was hard to believe they were even in the UK: “It just looked like something from the South China Seas,” he said.

“It’s hard to describe the magic of the dolphins; I think it’s just the magic of North Devon, that we have that sort of area.”

* Click on the video above, shot by Paul Hutchings from aboard Lundy Explorer, to watch ‘Dave’ sporting in the waters near sandy Cove.