Wildlife watching in Wales by Sea Trust

Marine Wildlife in Wales

To celebrate St David’s Day, we are sharing our Top 10 Welsh marine wildlife wonders!

Wales is a small country best known for castles and male voice choirs, but, did you know that Wales boasts some fantastic wildlife watching opportunities? The coast of Wales even has a footpath that reaches 870 miles (1,400 km) around the length of it, perfect for species spotting!

Wales is full of incredible nature, and we’ve put together a list of just some of the amazing animals that can be found living on the Welsh coast.

Harbour Porpoise

Welsh name: llamhidydd

Harbour porpoises are a small cetacean, found around the coastline of Wales. Growing to around 1.8m, harbour porpoises are generally shier than dolphins and can be identified by their small triangular dorsal fin and rounded head. Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire is arguably the best place in the country to spot them, with sightings almost daily from the lookout on the cliff.

Grey Seal

Welsh name: morlo llwyd

Grey seals are a resident marine mammal and are often spotted around the coastline of Wales. You might spot them bobbing around in the waves or hauled out on rocks enjoying the sun! Towards the end of the summer, the pupping season begins so keep a look out for their fluffy, white pups hidden on the rocky shorelines.

Atlantic Puffin

Welsh name: pâl

The Atlantic puffin is one of the most charismatic birds found in Wales. Puffins are summer visitors to a handful of islands around the coast, coming to nest and raise their chicks. They’ll spend the warmer months fishing for sand eels and preparing to welcome their pufflings (yes that is what a baby puffin is called!)

Bottlenose Dolphin

Welsh name: dolffin trwyn potel

Yes, there are dolphins in Wales! There are in fact three species of dolphin regularly encountered around the coast of Wales, the bottlenose dolphin being the most famous. Cardigan Bay has a resident population of bottlenose dolphins that can often be spotted from the shore, and they must be feeding well in our waters as the UK actually has the largest bottlenose dolphins in the world.

Manx Shearwater

Welsh name: adar drycin manaw

The Manx shearwater is a small bird that spends their summer season in parts of Wales. A true seabird, the Manx shearwater travels right across the world, coming to Welsh waters to feed and make their nests on our coastal islands, after spending the winter months in South America. You’ll spot them in the day time fishing offshore, and coming back to land at night.

Minke Whale

Welsh name: morfil pigfain

Did you know that there are whales in Wales? There have been several species spotted in Welsh waters over the years, including humpback and fin whales, however, the minke whale is the most common. The smallest of the baleen whales, minke whales grow to 10 metres long and feed on small fish and plankton. Despite their large size, they are very tricky to spot, often silently breaching the sea’s surface to breathe.

Basking Shark

Welsh name: heulgi

The second largest fish in the world does visit Welsh waters! Basking sharks are a large filter-feeding shark species that feed on plankton. They are named for their behaviour of “basking” in the sun near the surface of the water, where they feed. One of many shark species that can be found around Wales, basking sharks are often spotted by boaters and occasionally even sighted breaching out of the water!

Snakelocks Anemone

Welsh name: anemoni nadreddog

The snakelocks anemone is a beautifully colourful anemone species that you may spot in rockpools around the coast. Sea anemones are commonly seen in the intertidal zone around the country. They are small invertebrates with numerous tentacles for catching prey such as small fish, prawns and sea snails. Their tentacles even glow under ultraviolet light!

Peregrine Falcon

Welsh name: hebog tramor

Did you know that the fastest animal in the world lives in Wales!? That’s right! The peregrine falcon, a small bird of prey that can reach speeds of over 200 mph lives around the Welsh coast. Keep your binoculars handy and watch out for its characteristic diving as it hunts its smaller birds. You might spot them perched high on cliff tops or hear their call as you walk the coast path.

Blue-rayed Limpet

Welsh name: brenigen lasresog

Along shorelines around the country, you can find all sorts of wonders, and the blue-rayed limpet is a beautiful sight! A small sea snail, growing to around 2cm, the blue-rayed limpet is usually found living on kelp. Their bright blue stripes are eye-catching as they catch the sun. To spot them, go rockpooling on very low tides or look out for them while snorkelling or SCUBA diving.

To get involved in or follow marine conservation work in Wales, here are some great organisations working in the country:

Planning your trip to Wales? Here are some of the best spots to watch marine life:

  • Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
  • Strumble Head
  • New Quay
  • South Stack Cliffs Nature Reserve
  • Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve
  • Skomer and Skokholm

Ready to start your ocean exploring journey? To sign up and become an Ocean Explorer today click here. While you wait for your first class, why not follow us on Facebook, where we regularly share fun facts, craft ideas and cute videos. You might also like to sign up to our monthly WiseKids newsletter for a monthly dose of marvellous marine-themed content straight to your inbox!

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