In this study photo-identification data were used to better understand movements, population structure and abundance of common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in south-west England and surrounding waters, to inform conservation efforts. A catalogue of 485 photographic sightings of 113 individuals was compiled from ~150 common bottlenose dolphin encounters made on 87 dates between March 2007 and January 2014. From these and other data, three likely sub-populations were identified in the western English Channel, demarcated by bathymetry and distance to land: (1) south-west England – inshore Cornwall to Devon, (2) offshore English/French waters and (3) inshore France from Brittany to Normandy. Maximum abundance estimates for south-west England coastal waters, using two methods, ranged between 102 and 113 (range 87–142, 95% CL) over the period 2008–2013, likely qualifying the region as nationally important, whilst the yearly maximum was 58 in 2013. The population was centred on Cornwall, where 19 well-marked animals were considered ‘probable’ residents. There were no ‘probable’ resident well-marked individuals found to be restricted to either Devon or Dorset, with animals moving freely within coastal areas across the three counties. Movements were also detected within offshore English waters and French waters (from other studies) of the western English Channel, but no interchange has as yet been detected between the three regions, highlighting the possible separation of the populations, though sample sizes are insufficient to confirm this. Given the findings, south-west England waters should be considered as a separate management unit requiring targeted conservation efforts.