Wildlife around the Gwynedd Coastline

We are very lucky here in Gwynedd, as there are a number of marine species to be seen around the coastline.

Should you encounter any whilst out on your craft, please do not disturb them and give them space.To further protect the diverse marine life in these coastal waters, both Gwynedd & Anglesey Councils have now adopted the Marine Code. Please read the code & ensure you ride in a manner that respects & protects.

Here are a few examples of the wildlife that you might see :


Several types of Dolphins such as the Common, Bottlenose, Risso’s and Striped can regularly be seen around the coastline and sometimes in large numbers.

An encounter with dolphins is always a very special experience, but do remember to slow down or stop, and give them plenty of room.


Porpoise seem at first very similar to Dolphins, but they are in fact considerably smaller in size and are much more wary in character. As with dolphins, slow down, give them enough space to go where they wish, and do not harass them.

Basking Shark

The Basking Shark is a rare visitor to the coastline but can be seen sometimes during summer months. Although a large animal of up to 11m in length, with a somewhat frighteningly huge mouth (as can be seen in the above picture), this slow moving shark feeds on plankton and poses no threat to humans whatsoever.

Because of their size and the fact that they move very slowly (at approximately 2 knots) it is vitally important that they are given space to move as they wish and are not harassed.


There are a large number of seals around the coastline and they can regularly be seen basking on the rocks during the summer months. Seals are very nosy and inquisitive and may come quite close.

Please slow down if you encounter any and give them plenty of room. Seals can also bite, so don’t be tempted to try and touch any that come close. You will need your fingers to ski back to the beach!


There are a number of species of birds that can be seen around the coastline as well such as the Cormorant, Gannet, Razorbill, Guillemot, Chough, Puffin & Arctic Tern

Occasional Species

Minke Whale

Over recent years there have been sightings of Minke Whales around the coastline, the most recent being July 1018 where a single Minke has been spotted numerous times off Holyhead. Minke whales can grow up to 10m in length and  weigh anything up to 10 tones.

Also, during June & July 2018 off Holyhead, there have been a couple of sightings of a pair of Orca (Killer Whales). Whilst any sighting would be unforgettable, please remember that if you are in the water…you could well resemble a tasty snack!

Leatherback turtle

The leatherback turtle can be seen occasionally around the coast and feeds mainly on jellyfish (They can consume up to their body weight of jellyfish each day). These turtles can grow up to two meters in length and can weigh more than 1,000 pounds.

Be sure that you look out for the leatherback turtles, as they quite often feed on or near the surface.

Sunfish (Mola Mola)

The world’s largest bony fish, Sunfish are summer visitors to UK waters & have been sighted twice this season off Abersoch and Barmouth. They can reach 10 ft in length & weigh up to 2000kg. They are slow swimmers & often lay sideways on the water surface, so be sure to keep a look out. Amazing to see, but 2000kg wouldn’t be great to run into (for you, or the sunfish)

Note :

Should you encounter a beached or stranded whale, dolphin or turtle whilst out around the coastline please alert the beach wardens if they are present, or alert the coastguard who will direct any rescue efforts

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