Welcome to the Fleet Observer

Nestling behind the spectacular Chesil Beach and part of the United Kingdom’s Jurassic coastline is the Fleet Lagoon part of the Fleet nature reserve – one of Weymouth and Portland’s most attractive natural features, certainly it’s most unique.

A trip on the Fleet Observer makes for a perfect day out for those wishing to learn more about the indigenous wildlife, spot a rare bird or see unique British marine life.

The Fleet Observer shallow drafted boat specifically designed and built to explore the lower reaches of the Fleet Lagoon. As well as scheduled tours for the general public the fleet observer is also available for educational and specialist trips.

We are locals who have spent many years learning about the many unique features and wildlife of the Chesil Beach and Fleet lagoon. With a little bit of pride we will share with you what we know, and act as your guides on this unique experience.

About

Local myths would have you believe this extraordinary accumulation of shingle was thrown up in a single night by a raging sea; the real history of the Chesil Beach and surrounding area is no less fascinating. Having been the stage for smuggling, shipwrecks and in more recent times a testing ground for one of the greatest events of the Second World War.

During this time the wildlife of the region has endured, leaving us today with a fascinating and delicate ecosystem to explore and enjoy. The beach is ideal attraction for all ages wishing to learn a little about wildlife, geography or the history of British seafaring but to be honest a lot of people just come to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

The Fleet lagoon is the largest saline lagoon in the UK and one of North Western Europe’s most important marine nature reserves, the Fleet lagoon is home to many marine and animal species, including some rare varieties.

The environment of the fleet varies from salt waters at the Ferrybridge to fresh water at the Abbotsbury end; this allows a huge variety of wildlife to exist in a relatively localised area in fact the Fleet boasts the greatest diversity of wildlife of any lagoon in the UK making it a great educational attraction.

Booking A Trip

The Fleet Observer sails daily, weather and demand permitting, Easter to September. Trips last 1 hour and are run throughout the day. In August an extra trip may be made.

  • Adults £7
  • Children £4
  • Whole boat and educational charters can be made.

The Fleet Observer is staffed by a team of volunteers, prebooking ensures that a skipper will be available. To book or for further information please call the Fleet Observer office on: – (01305) 759692

The Fleet Observer carries up to 12 passengers, trips require a minimum of 4 passengers. We regret that access to the Fleet Observer is not suitable for wheelchair users.

For information and enquiries concerning the Chesil Bank and the Fleet Nature Reserve telephone (01305) 760579

Sea Birds

The Fleet is home to many waders and wildfowl every winter 10,000 Wigeon and 5,000 Brent Geese spend the winter at the lagoon. Attracted in their thousands by the rich supply of food many birds from north and east Europe spend there winters here.

The mudflats and shallows waters attract wading birds such as Oystercatcher, Curlew, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank. Cormorant’s fish for eels and flounders on the Fleet, and are often seen sitting in poles. Gray Herons and Little Egrets are also common.

Most conspicuous are the Brent Geese from Siberia and Wigeon from Russia. There are also important populations of Gadwall, Pochard, Red-breasted Merganser, Pintail, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Teal and Coot. In spring the fleet welcomes migrants from Africa who come to breed. Common and Little Terns can be seen diving into the water for immature fish.

Near Abbotsbury the lagoon supports the largest Mute Swan population in Britain and the only managed colony of nesting mute swans in the world, colony here can number over 600 swans with around 150 pairs a rare site as Nesting Mute Swans are usually intensely territorial, making it unusual to see this many pairs in proximity to each other.

We have a dedicated community of bird watchers and are keen to hear from anyone who may have spotted any thing rare.

Wildlife

The most common mammals to be found on the beach are rats and foxes. One animal you wouldn’t expect to find on Chesil is the hare, however they live and breed quite happily and can often be see running along the beach. There have even been seals recorded sitting on the beach and in the Fleet during the summer months.

There have been 300 species of flowering plants recorded on Chesil and in the Fleet, the most obvious being the Thrift which creates a spectacular carpet of pink during May giving it its local name Sea Pink. Other more rarer species include Four-leafed Allseed, Sea Pea, Yellow-horned Poppy and Sea-kale, while the principle salt marsh plants are Seablite, Sea Purslane and Glasswort.

30 species of fish have been recorded in the Fleet including Bass, Grey Mullet, Two-spot Goby, Ballan Wrasse, Corkring Wrasse and Tompot Blenny.

Also to be found are 150 species of seaweed, 25 species of fish and 60 species of mollusc.

How to Find Us

The Fleet Observer jetty is behind the Ferrybridge Inn
Ferrymans’s Way
Wyke Regis
Weymouth
Dorset.
DT4 9YU
Going to Portland, turn right just before the Ferrybridge Inn