O Dan y Don - Issue 2

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O DAN Y DON Issue 2 2021


Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau SAC


Find out more about how this global problem is impacting some of the worlds remotest places

Grey seals in Wales

Tir a Môr

Beneath the waves...

Learn more about these charismatic marine mammals.

Learn more about this exciting and far reaching project.

…of Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau. Explore the SAC through a scuba divers eyes.



elcome back! It has been a strange few months for us all. So whilst we are all exploring a little closer to home why not take a peek at the weird and wonderful world under the waves of Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau. In this issue find out more about the inquisitive grey seals and their pups. Discover some of the stranger animals living just out of sight such as the orange-clubbed sea slug and explore under the waves with a local diver. As ever, we are working hard to reduce the impact we have on this wonderful underwater world. Read about an Arctic adventure that explores how plastic has made its way to the most remote places on Earth. I also hope you enjoy the tips and tricks for reducing the amount of single use plastic we use. I would like to thank everyone that has contributed to this edition of O Dan y Don with a special shout out to those that have provided us with a glimpse of how they use the area from angling and paddle boarding to finding a new use for washed up plastic ropes. It can often be difficult for us to visualise what goes on O Dan y Don (under the waves), so here we strive to provide a glimpse into the exciting and colourful underwater world of Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau.



info@penllynarsarnau.co.uk www.penllynarsarnau.co.uk 01286 679495

Alison Palmer Hargrave SAC Officer / Editor

@ ACA_PLAS_SAC Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau

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Glaslyn / Dwyryd

Pen Llŷn


Abersoch Aberdaron

Ynys Enlli

Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau


adrig Sarn B


-Bwch Sarn-y




Ardal Cadwraeth Arbennig (ACA) Special Area of Conservation (SAC)


lin Cynfe


The Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is a marine protected area that begins near Nefyn, on the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsular, north Wales, and extends over 230km to a mile north of Aberystwyth, mid Wales. It has been designated because of its wealth of wildlife and habitats. Areas such as these are designated due to habitats and species of international importance. Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau has 12 of these: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Reefs Estuaries Coastal lagoon Intertidal mudflats and sandflats Subtidal sandbanks Sea caves Large shallow inlets and bay Atlantic Salt meadow Salicornia Bottlenose dolphins Grey seals Otter

There are lots of great ways to help protect Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau, please have a look at the ‘Get involved’ section on page 50, check out our website or join us on social media, to see some of the fantastic projects that need volunteers.

WHAT IS A PROTECTED AREA? A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a tool that we can use to protect marine habitats and species of national or international importance whilst enabling its sustainable use. There are many types of MPA which include, Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) such as Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau, Special Protected Areas (SPA) and Marine Conservation Zones. At the moment around 23% of UK seas are designated as a type of marine protected area. The UK has signed up to a number of international agreements which states that we must establish a network of MPAs which are well managed and ecologically coherent. This means that all the sites in a network provide more benefit than an individual site on its own.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this edition of O Dan y Don: Article authors : Paul Kay, Alison Palmer Hargrave, Nia Hâf Jones, Becky Price, Jake Davies , Llinos Griffin, Mike Thrussell, Ben Porter, Molly Lovatt, Chloe Powell-Jennings, Arwel Jones Photo credits: Jake Davies, Samantha Bryan, Alison Palmer Hargrave, Paul Kay, Llinos Griffin, Mike Thrussell, Ben Porter, Molly Lovatt, Chloe Powell-Jennings, Catrin Glyn, Ann Wake, Al Rowat Cover photo: Paul Kay



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CONTENT WELCOME Page 02 Welcome to O Dan y Don, staff introductions and contact details Page 03 Introduction to the SAC and ‘What is a protected area?’

NEWS Page 06-07 See what we’ve been up to this year

FEATURES Page 08 Sonar mapping Page 09 The bronze bell Page 10 Exploring beneath

Page 22 Grey seals Page 24 Living seas wales Page 26 Invasive species Page 32 A message from the Arctic Page 38 Tir a Môr Page 40 Beachcombing Page 42 Wildlife walk Page 44 Plastic pollution Page 47 Plastic free july Page 48 Plastic art

Page 12 Creature feature Page 13 Leatherback turtle Page 14 Stand up paddle boarding Page 18 Sea Angling

GET INVOLVED Page 50 How to get involved

Ballan wrasse (Labrus bergylta) are one of the most common species encountered at Porth Ysgaden. During the summer months you see them gathering nesting materials to create their nests


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NEWS HELIX ANCHOR TRIAL A new anchor system has been trialled by the National Trust in Porthdinllaen this year. As strong as a concrete anchor, the helix anchor has a smaller footprint so will do less damage when installing and maintaining them.


We are exploring ways of reducing the impact of the outer harbour moorings at Porthdinllaen on seagrass. Over the next year we hope to trial an advanced mooring system to test both its suitability as a mooring and its impact on seagrass. If you would like to be involved with this project or just want more information please do get in touch.

LOVE THEM FROM AFAR – FOLLOW THE MARINE CODE We have continued to promote the Marine Code. We have produced a number of small signs and stickers to remind people of the code and its importance. Enjoy the wildlife; love them from afar. • Look out for wildlife • Keep your distance • Reduce speed and sound

We would like to thank everyone that has taken part in the many beach cleans that took place during the last 12 months across Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau SAC. Whether you joined us, another group or did your own thing, it all counts and helps keep our beaches tidy! For future beach cleans please check the Welsh Government guidelines for the latest information on how to pick up litter safely.

To keep The Last Straw campaign going we are encouraging people to say “no thank you” to straws when out and about. We are hoping that this will help support those that have joined The Last Straw campaign and encourage others to join in.

OUT AND ABOUT We have been very busy over the last 12 months with all of our projects but we believe it is important to make sure you know what we are doing and have a chance to get involved. We have been to many local shows and events with information about Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau and all the different projects we are running. We have visited schools, local groups, businesses and much more! Due to current conditions it may be difficult for us to get out and about as usual, so to keep up to date with our work visit our Facebook and Twitter pages.



We have been wanting to produce an education pack for schools for a long time and now we are nearly there! We have been working in partnership with others to produce a pack that will provide information and activities for teachers and pupils. The pack will be full of exciting activities that will make learning about the great outdoors a lot of fun! We hope to launch the pack this autumn.

CRAWFISH Crawfish went into serious decline in the 1970/80s and remain critically low today. We have been looking into different options to help restore the species. To move this project to the next stage we will need everyone to work together. Keep an eye on our social media sites for more information. In the meantime if you see or catch a crawfish please report your sighting at: www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/crawfish


We have had some excellent community support across our projects over the last 12 months, we would like to thank all those that have helped and contributed to this work. Without the support of local communities, sea users and local businesses, we would not be able to push this work forward. We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2021.

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NEWS BIOSECURITY One of the biggest threats to native wildlife is invasive non-native species. These are species that outcompete native species and can have a serious impact on the environment. We are currently working on producing a biosecurity plan for Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau to reduce the risk of invasive non-native species being introduced to the area. The first step is to speak to those that use the area to identify potential pathways and to work out what information people need. If you would like to get involved with this project or have any information you would like to share please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you plasbiosecurity@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk.

OTTERS IN ABERDARON! Whilst learning more about how otters use Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau we managed to capture some exciting otter footage along the Daron River in Aberdaron. Someone was also lucky enough to take some photos of an otter running along the beach in Tywyn!

SEAL PUPS Seal pups can often be seen on their own. Many people mistakenly think these pups have been abandoned, but in reality their mother is close by. After receiving some reports of people attempting to rescue seal pups, resulting in some seal pup fatalities we decided to set up a campaign to let people know that the pups are ok and who to contact if they are in any doubt. Seal pups are amazing to see but we do need to keep our distance so we don’t scare the mother away. Don’t forget that a seal bite can be dangerous.

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN! UN Environment launched #CleanSeas in 2017, with the aim of engaging governments, the general public, charities and the private sector in the fight against marine plastic litter. This is a global campaign that Wales is now part of. The Wales Clean Seas Partnership is addressing the issue of marine litter in Wales. To find out more and what you can do, please visit their pages: https://businesswales.gov.wales/marineandfisheries/information-andstatistics/marine-litter/marine-litter-what-you-can-do



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EACAMS 2 is a project funded by the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) which supports developing economic opportunities in Low Carbon, Energy and Environment through specialisation in commercial application of research and innovation in marine renewable energy (MRE), climate change resilience and resource efficiency in Wales. Through this project, marine scientists from Bangor University (School of Ocean Sciences) have had access to the SEACAMS research vessel, the Prince Madog. Prince Madog is equipped with the latest multi-beam sonar technology which allows scientists to locate and survey vessels from both world wars. The state of the art multi-beam sonar systems on the research vessel operate by generating very high resolution, three-dimensional models of the seafloor as the research vessel

moves through the water over it. These models can allow surveyors and scientists to identify objects at near centimetre scale, although this is dependent on conditions and the specific systems used. Marine archaeologists are able to confirm a shipwreck’s identity and even provide information on how the vessel sank. Thanks to the state of the art technology, the equipment is able to generate detailed images and models which provide valuable insight into the history of the vessels they find. To date, more than 70 sites have been studied with hopes of surveying many more in the future. In water depths of 100 metres, typically found in the Irish Sea, researchers are generating models and images of wrecks that can help marine archaeologists to confirm their identity and even provide evidence of their demise.

As well as providing valuable insight to historians and marine archaeologists, the use of sonar mapping for surveying shipwrecks may also contribute towards the start of a new industry. Scientists are being provided with new information about how the shipwrecks influence physical and biological processes in the ocean, and this knowledge is providing new insights which support the marine renewable energy (MRE) sector. Additionally, researchers are also examining how these structures can act as artificial reefs in a bid to increase marine biodiversity. All of the data gathered with be hugely beneficial to marine scientists, archaeologists and historians. This new sonar mapping technology will give us far clearer picture of what now lies beneath the waves.

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he Bronze Bell shipwreck is named after the bell that was found on the site, dating back to 1677, along with cannons, anchors and 43 blocks of Italian Carrara marble, which were possibly destined for the rebuild of St Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire of London! The wreck is located to the south of the Sarn Badrig Reef between Barmouth and Harlech in Cardigan Bay, and was discovered 10m below the surface by divers from Glaslyn and Harlow Sub Aqua club in 1978. The divers came across the heavily armed vessel containing approximately 66 tonnes of Carrera marble, 25 cast-iron guns, the Bronze Bell, and many other finds. The divers formed themselves into the Cae Nest Group and together with the Welsh Institute of Maritime

Archaeology and History at the University of Wales (Bangor), applied for site designation and a licence to survey. The site is now designated as a Historic Wreck under the Protections of Wrecks Act 1973. Timbers from the wreck were incorporated into a building at Cors y Gedol Hall and many of the artefacts from the wreck are now on display in local museums. For the Millennium celebrations, a local man named Frank Cocksey created a sculpture known as ‘The Last Haul’ in memory of the shipwreck. The impressive sculpture, which features generations of fishermen hauling their nets carved out of a single block of Carrara marble, is located near the harbour in Barmouth and is well worth a visit.



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1. Look carefully within the seaweed close to the walls as well camouflaged fifteen spined sticklebacks (Spinachia spinachia) can be found, particularly towards the shallower end of the bay 2. Black Goby (Gobius niger) can be found protecting their burrows in the sand 3. Various goby species can be found at the site, one of the larger species is the Black Goby (Gobius niger) which is an inquisitive species and will come and investigate

EXPLORING BENEATH THE WAVES OF PEN LLŶN A’R SARNAU There are a variety of ways of enjoying the wealth of life found within the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation from dolphin watching along the headlands to rock pooling the intertidal rocky shores.


owever, one of the most exciting ways of enjoying the marine life is through exploring below the waves by Scuba diving. Scuba diving provides the opportunity to get up close to the range of habitats such as the designated reefs of the Sarnau created during the last ice age and species such as the playful grey seals found around the St Tudwals Islands. During the summer months conditions within the SAC become ideal for scuba diving. Water temperatures increase up to 16°C and even 20°C or more within the shallow waters of Cardigan Bay with visibility up to 20m on a good day. A great way of getting in the water and going diving is through joining the local BSAC dive club ‘Lleyn Sub-Aqua club’. The club is an active club diving twice a week with experienced members who have dived the area for many years. Every dive around the Llŷn coast is unique and no two dives are the same. The majority of dives are on reefs, with the reefs on the north side of


the Llŷn being the most popular. They can be dived during slack water or as a drift dive. Large reefs such as the reefs off the North Llŷn are teeming with life; lobsters, crabs and octopus can be found tucked away in crevices and if fortunate the well camouflaged sponge crab (Dromia personata) can be seen. Above the reef large shoals of pollack (Pollachius pollachius) and bib (Trisopterus luscus) are observed. One of the more tranquil habitats can be found in Porthdinllaen, which is the seagrass bed (Zostera marina). The bed is found within shallow waters but amongst the green grass blades species such as the Greater (Sygnathus acus) and Worm pipefish (Nerophis lumbriciformis) as well as numerous two-spot gobies hide amongst it. The seagrass bed also provides an important ecosystem service as it acts as a nursery for plaice (Pleurnonectes plattesa), cod (Gadus morhua) and other commercially important species.


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Not all sites require boat access, Porth Ysgaden on the North Llŷn is a sheltered bay, making it a perfect location for shore diving as well as for trainees. The gently sloping beach has a variety of habitats from bare sand to small kelp forests, which allows for a diverse range of species to be found. However, the sea around the Llŷn Peninsula also provides divers with more challenging conditions such as low visibility and cold temperatures.

Conditions that allow trainees to undertake more challenging dives as well as testing the skills of the more experienced divers. Interested in learning to dive and finding out what’s below the waves? The ‘Lleyn Sub-Aqua club’ club welcomes experienced or unexperienced to become members to find out more about joining or would like to undertake a try dive visit: www.llynscuba.org.uk

To see what’s below the waves around the Llŷn Peninsula follow on Jake’s social media: Youtube : JDscuba Instagram: @JDScuba FaceBook: JDScuba Twitter: @jakedavies333



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FEATURE CREATURE: THE ORANGE-CLUBBED SEA SLUG Have you ever heard of the orange clubbed sea slug? Probably not... However, this little creature is more than just a slug. A lot more colourful than the ones you find in your garden, this slug is white with bright orange tipped stalks known as “rhinophores”


range-clubbed sea slugs (also known as a nudibranch) can be found all around the UK coastline. They live on seaweed and rocks in shallow waters near to shore, and you may also find them inside a rock pool from time to time. Believe it or not, sea slugs are actually carnivores, meaning they eat other animals. Orange-clubbed sea slugs love eating bryozoans, which are a group of weird marine creatures also known as “sea mats” because, although it looks like a kind of plant or moss, bryozoans are actually colonies of tiny animals that stick together to form mats on seaweed. This particular sea slug has a special defence mechanism which prevents it from being eaten by predators. The

orange stalks on their body are used to produce chemicals that tastes horrible to other animals! You can find these colourful creatures all year round, so next time you’re at the coast, keep your eyes peeled!





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10 TURTLEY AWESOME FACTS ABOUT THE LEATHERBACK TURTLE! Who’d have thought it – sea turtles aren’t just a tropical species? Because they love to eat jellyfish Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau is a summer hotspot for this species. We’d love to hear from you if you’re lucky enough to see one and here are our top ten facts about this incredible species…

1. The leatherback turtle has the widest

distribution of all marine turtles, and can be found in our oceans as far north as Alaska, USA, and as far south as New Zealand. The leatherback turtle can be found within the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau SAC!

2. The leatherback turtle is the largest

species of turtle in the world, growing to around 2m long. The largest leatherback turtle was found in Harlech in 1988, weighing in at 916kg!

3. Leatherback turtles make their way

to North Wales from the tropics during summer in search of their favourite food – jellyfish.

4. Leatherback turtles can live up to 50 years in the wild.

5. Unlike other species of sea turtle, the




leatherback’s shell isn’t hard. Instead, as its name suggests, this ocean giant has a leathery shell which is actually quite soft and flexible. Leatherbacks are super swimmers, using their powerful front flippers (which can span up to a huge 2.7m) to propel through the water. Their rear flippers help to steer them in the water, acting like the rudder of a boat.


Leatherback turtles are one of the most migratory turtle species, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


Compared with other turtles, leatherbacks can survive in colder waters which is probably due to their thick layer of insulating fat and unique blood system, which keeps their bodies warmer than the water around them.

Because leatherback turtles are so well-equipped, these adaptations allows them to dive to cold, dark depths of over 1000m! That’s deeper than any other sea turtle can dive!

Leatherback turtle populations have dramatically declined over the last century due to threats such as litter, pollution, egg collection, predation and fishery bycatches.

There are seven species of marine turtle in the world. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven species being critically endangered.



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WHAT’S SUP? Becky Price explains why paddle-boarding is her favourite way to explore the coast of Pen Llŷn


grew up on the Shropshire/Powys border, so I was only able to visit the coast at the weekends or during the holidays. I have always loved water sports and every time I went to the seaside, I would always be doing some kind of water activity, be that swimming, surfing or kayaking. But it wasn’t until 5 years ago that I had my first experience of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), and it is an experience I will never forget. My fiancé and I rented out a couple of paddleboards for the afternoon one day in the summer of 2015; the wind

was light and the sea was so calm it looked like glass – perfect conditions for paddle-boarding. Stand-up paddle-boarding – or “supping”, as it is sometimes called, involves standing on the middle of a board with feet shoulder-width apart, and propelling yourself through the water with a long oar. Supping is not just for the sea though, you can also paddle along rivers and lakes too. I hopped on to the board, using my knees to balance myself initially, before I gained the confidence to eventually stand up. Slowly, I extended

my kneeling legs into a standing position, my arms held out in front of me. I must have looked like Bambi! Paddle-boarding is a great way to stay toned as you use all kinds of muscles to keep you balanced. I’m not going to lie, the first time I tried paddleboarding I did fall in, but at the end of the day it’s just water! After some practice and as my confidence grew, we decided to venture further out towards some nearby islands. What I immediately noticed is how calm and peaceful I felt; as it turns out, paddleboarding is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. I felt connected to the landscape around me in a way that I had never experienced before. Supping gives you a unique vantage point compared to seated water vessels, which tend to direct your focus toward going and moving forward. Standing up directs your gaze downward and outward across the horizon. As I paddled, I could see everything below and around

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the world before, but never had I had such a close encounter. It was magical. I believe that paddle-boarding gives you a completely different perspective of the environment around you, giving you a unique experience like no other water sport can. I had my first experience paddleboarding 5 years ago and fell in love with it. So much in fact, that I went out and bought my very own board afterwards. It’s been one of my best investments to date. There’s just something about being on that board, with no roaring engine to propel you along. It’s just you and the ocean, with your own strength and balance getting you to where you want to be. The only regret I have is not taking up the sport sooner. There is a competitive side to supping, but I personally love to paddleboard because it allows me to get up close to nature in the fresh air, whilst also giving me a little workout at the same time. Paddle-boarding is great for people who want to stay active, but hate the thought of going to a gym. It would make an excellent new hobby. me, and because paddling itself is such a relaxed, meditative process, I’m inclined to take advantage of the increased visibility. I saw all kinds of interesting fish and floating jellyfish in the water below me, which I probably wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Stand-up paddling encourages exploration, and rewards it. We paddled around the islands, exploring the little inlets and caves carved into the rock, admiring the natural beauty that was all around us before heading back towards shore. But I didn’t want it to end; I wanted stay in this moment of utter peace, so I sat down on my board and breathed in the fresh salty air, taking in my surroundings. That’s the beauty of paddle-boarding, it’s just you, your board and the natural environment around you. Just as I opened my eyes I saw two dorsal fins break the surface of the water in front of me. “Dolphins!” I squealed to my partner who was gliding alongside of me. I had seen dolphins in this part of

There are other benefits too. Some of my best wildlife encounters have been whilst I was on my paddleboard. I love to paddle around the Llŷn Peninsula, and in particular near the St. Tudwals islands, so I have lost count the number of times that I have had dolphins swimming right alongside of me. I feel like I get a much more personal experience when I encounter them on a paddleboard rather than a boat. Not only is paddle-boarding good for your body, it is also good for your mind. I find it balances me and brings me peace. Through paddle-boarding, I have found a whole new appreciation for the place I live.



You don’t need to live near the coast to try paddleboarding. In fact, rivers and

recreational lakes can often be flatter and therefore easier places to learn. Just Google your local club or hire centre. Kit is expensive to buy, but very affordable to rent.


Standing on paddleboards is very straightforward – they are designed to provide quite

a stable platform. Still, it’s worth having a lesson if it’s your first time or you might end up going round in circles.


Get used to the movement of the board on the water before trying to stand up.

Start by paddling from a kneeling position. Once you’re comfortable, use both hands to help yourself on to your feet.


To propel yourself forwards, put your paddle in the water towards the nose of the

board and pull it through the water in a straight line, keeping it as close to the edge of the board (without touching it) as you can. End your stroke when the paddle is in line with your ankles.


Paddle-boarding is suitable for





levels, especially when the

weather and water conditions are favourable.



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The infinite shades of our blue, green and grey seas, showcasing some of the larger inhabitants of Pen Llŷn Right: Grey seal Top: Bottlenose dolphins Bottom Harbour porpoise



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ike Thrussell explains why he thinks sea angling is all too often seen as just a recreational sport, but it has a far more important function, that if embraced and utilised, can make a major contribution towards future marine conservation and planning.


’ve been a sea angler for 60-years and deeply concerned about and involved in marine conservation for nearly 40-years. Those years have taught me that sea anglers, along with certain aspects of commercial fishing, are the true eyes and ears as to exactly what is going on sub surface in our seas. There is no substitute for spending accumulative time on or by the sea when it comes to observing changes in fish migration, food availability, seasonal variations,

weather patterns and above all stock numbers of specific species. This is not a new thing. I began tagging bass in the north of Cardigan Bay for eminent amateur fish biologist Donovan Kelly MBE way back in the early 1980’s. In conversation with Donovan at the time, he made it clear that he was concerned as to the future of bass stocks and that at that time we really knew very little of the life cycle of the bass. The general consensus then was that all adult UK bass moved

south to the English Channel to breed in the early New Year period. This made no sense to anglers who caught bass in mid-winter as far north as the Scottish coast. Bass, obviously, could not physically travel that far in such a short space of time and be back in their more northern home waters come April. The tagging programme established that bass, for the most part, stayed in a specific area and only moved out to adjacent deeper water to breed in close proximity to their rough territorial district. The tagging scheme also proved that individual juvenile bass will begin their life in specific to them estuarial environments, but prior to adulthood a small minority

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may suddenly up roots and travel major distances setting up home in areas well away from their initial home. I remember tagging bass in the Mawddach Estuary that were later caught in the Conwy Estuary, one moved to the Teifi Estuary, and another travelled south to the Camel Estuary in Cornwall. Unusual, but it happens and is evident in other normally area specific species, such as monkfish. Knowing that bass are mainly territorial and do not move too far as rule in adulthood, suggests that future bass protection may be better monitored on a more localised scale rather than nationally as over-zealous commercial fishing could soon hit localised numbers. I was also involved in tagging tope in Cardigan Bay from the late 1980’s on. Its fair to say that tagging done independently by charter angling skippers and individual sea anglers in Cardigan Bay, also by the then Irish Central Fisheries Board, was the first source to establish that there was a

definite interchange across the mid Irish Sea of tope between Cardigan Bay and the Wicklow coast in Ireland. Something that had been suspected, but not previously proven. Tagging porbeagle sharks in the late 1980’s inside Cardigan Bay also highlighted heavy commercial kills down off Lundy Island during the porbeagle’s northward migration which resulted in numbers dropping alarmingly off Mid and North Wales in their traditional late June to early August pass through as they headed north. Anglers voiced their concerns, but as usual, to no avail and their numbers dropped to worrying levels. Other successful tagging programmes elsewhere undertaken by catch and release anglers have seen common skate protected and reestablished in the west of Ireland, and the first confirmed interchange of blue shark between Europe and America, and that blue sharks caught off the UK and Ireland have then turned up off

South Africa and The Azores. Only tag and release can collate such valuable information. It’s close to 30-years ago now, that sea anglers voiced their concerns in sea angling magazines, and by writing letters to applicable government authorities, that the numbers and overall size of cod were falling dramatically due to commercial overfishing. Scientists at the time ignored this. We now know how right this observation was. It’s equally worrying that as we speak, marine scientists and commercial fisherman tell us cod are not in major decline and that they are fairly plentiful. If this is so, why are anglers not catching any sizeable cod in number currently, just the very occasional one, throughout most of the UK and Ireland? In fact, the winter of 2018/19 will go down in most areas as one of the poorest for cod on record. Anglers also warned, around 20-years ago, of the overkill by tangle



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nets of the thornback ray and monkfish (Angel shark) in Cardigan Bay, and numbers duly fell to all-time lows, some even fearing the monkfish had disappeared. Even now the monkfish population remains worryingly below what was an average level 20 plus years ago. It’s also interesting to note, that it was charter angling skippers working out of the ports at Aberystwyth and Aberdovey who first introduced specific species catch limits on their boats as long as 25-years ago restricting anglers to three bream and bass each per day, the live return of all tope and sharks, and a limit on how many mackerel each angler could take home. Forward thinking at its best. If only scientists and governments had followed suit! The most striking “yin and yang” aspect are the mackerel and the herring. Mackerel used to be abundant off the Mid and North Wales coast predictably showing in numbers

from mid-April to late October. In recent summers their numbers have been minimal at times, their size small and their arrival unpredictable, sometimes not showing properly until August. Without doubt, industrial commercial fishing far far away is a partial blame, but a change in winter sea temperatures may also have affected the mackerels breeding cycle. Conversely, as commercial fishing for herring minimised due to low numbers, their numbers have since escalated, and now each autumn, winter and spring the waters of North and Mid Wales are once again seeing herring caught in good numbers. Sea anglers have also noted how the crab peel (when the crab begin to shed their shells in order to grow) over the past few years has slowed, and the season narrowed. This is likely to do with wetter springs with flood water and acidity a major influence on the crabs deciding to peel, as well as estuarial water temperature. Sandeel are not around in the numbers

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they once were either, and it’s also noticeable that as the beaches were “cleaned up” the lugworm started to disappear. Our “Blue Flag” society often thinks it’s doing the right thing, but even when we think we are making a positive step for the environment, it can still have a devastating effect on some form or forms of marine life. Climate change has also seen the general seasonal movements of fish change. Both bass and mullet now arrive around 3-weeks to a month later on average than would have been the case a decade or more ago. The winters have shown signs of dragging in to what used to be very early spring and this has seen the winter whiting stay inshore longer than would have previously been the case. In the milder winters, the dabs do not come so close to shore as they would in a cold winter.



O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021

DON’T BE ‘SEALLY’! Grey seals are amazing marine mammals that are a feature of the PLAS SAC, but they’re under threat from people attempting to ‘rescue them’. Here’s what you should do if you find one.


he grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) is the larger of the UK’s two seal species, with males weighing up to 300kg! A very large mammal, the grey seal spends most of its time out at sea where it dives up to 70 metres for around three minutes at a time to feed on fish, crustaceans and cephalapods. Grey seals can be found all around the UK coastline, with an important breeding population in west Wales. However, grey seals are in fact one of the rarest seals in the world, and the UK represents approximately 40% of the world’s population and 95% of the EU population! As a result, there is a chance that you may encounter a seal ‘pup’ on land, and it’s not unusual to see a seal pup by itself. There have been increasing reports of seal pup deaths due to people mistakenly believing that the pups have been abandoned, and therefore try to ‘rescue them’ by putting them back into the water. However, 90% of the time the seal pup is not actually abandoned, and the mother is likely to be nearby in the water. Seal mums also leave their pups very early on in life, when they are weaned at three to four weeks old. But occasionally baby seals can be separated from their mothers during storms and others

may not feed properly. After stormy weather and high tides, seals will haul out onto beaches to rest and regain their strength. The best advice is to keep a safe distance away from the seal to avoid distressing the animal. If the seal pup is still suckling, then approaching the pup could threaten the mother-pup bond and the pup may be abandoned, seals will react if approached too closely. It is also important to know that seals can give a nasty bite that is likely to become infected from the bacteria that live in the seals mouth.

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Sefwch ddigon pell i ffwrdd o fi! Please stay well away from me!

Cadwch ddigon pell i ffwrdd oddi wrth y morloi bach a chadwch eich ci i ffwrdd. Os yw’r un bach ar ei ben ei hun ar y traeth, peidiwch â cheisio ei symud o gwbl. Fel rheol mae’r fam wrth law yn y dŵr. Cadwch draw er mwyn iddi allu dychwelyd at yr un bach fel bo angen. Peidiwch byth â hel morloi bach i mewn i’r môr - dydyn nhw ddim yn gallu nofio’n iawn ac mae angen amser arnynt i orffwys a thyfu.

Dwi ddim ar fy mhen fy hun I am not abandoned

Leave me alone, , I 'm ok! Dacw fy mam! My mum is over there!

PEIDIWCH â’n hel i mewn i’r dŵr, fedra’ i ddim nofio’n dda iawn! DO NOT chase me into the water, I can’t swim very well!

Please stay well away from seal pups and keep your dog away. If a pup is alone on a beach it is not abandoned, do not attempt to move it. Its mother is usually nearby in the water. Keep away so she can return to her pup when she needs to. Seal pups should never be chased into the sea - they are poor swimmers and need to spend their time resting and growing.

Os ydych chi’n meddwl bod morlo’n sâl neu wedi ei anafu ffoniwch yr RSPCA ar 0300 1234 999. Peidiwch â cheisio symud yr anifail na chyffwrdd ynddo o gwbl.

If you are concerned about the welfare of a seal because you believe the animal is sick or injured please call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. Do not attempt to move or intervene with the animal yourself.

Cafodd y testun ei atgynhyrchu gyda chaniatâd caredig Cyngor Sir Ceredigion. Cafodd y lluniau eu hatgynhyrchu gyda chaniatâd caredig Awdurdod Parc Cenedlaethol Arfordir Sir Benfro.

The text has been reproduced with kind permission form Ceredigion County Council. The illustrations have been reproduced with kind permission from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. CCO080 08/19 four.cymru

Gadewch lonydd i mi, , dwi n iawn!


O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021

LIVING SEAS WALES PROJECT Wales has around 1,700miles of coastline and, with almost 15,000km2 of sea, is home to a whole host of wonderful wildlife!


iving Seas is the Wildlife Trusts’ vision for the future of UK seas and now, more than ever, we believe that our seas are at a turning point. As well as our advocacy work with the Welsh Government and Welsh politicians, we believe that local people, local communities and coastal visitors are the key to help reverse declines in marine wildlife. How so? Well, the great Sir David Attenborough once said “no one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced” and so our first step is to bring what is largely a hidden world to life before giving people the tools they need to act for marine wildlife. Early in spring 2018 we were awarded funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a 3 year project called Living Seas Wales. The project is a partnership with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and allows us to work with other organisations, such as the team at Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau, to get and about to showcase our incredible marine wildlife. During the summer we take to the road with our Living Seas Live! Roadshow. Each event, depending on location, has virtual experiences, rockpooling, beachcombing and seawatching. Beyond the roadshow there are also several events going on in the area. One of our favourites is Snŵdling (Snorkelling + Doodling) where we’ve hooked up with Aberdaron based artist, Kim Atkinson to showcase our wonderful underwater habitats whilst learning to draw!

We have also established a programme of activities that allows people to get involved with practical conservation of the marine environment with wildlife surveys, beach-cleans, training events and through the establishment of a network of Living Seas Champions throughout Wales. To find out more about the project or if you’d like to get involved head to www.livingseas.wales or follow @ livingseaswales

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O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021

THE PEN LLŶN A’R SARNAU ALIENS WHAT IS AN INVASIVE NONNATIVE SPECIES? Invasive non-native species (INNS), also known as invasive alien species, are plants and animals that do not naturally occur in the area but have been moved here usually by human activity and can cause significant damage. INNS are considered to be one of the most significant causes of habitat loss and threats to biodiversity. They outcompete native species, introduce disease and cost the British economy around £1.7 billion annually! INNS arrive through ‘pathways’ including through ballast water, fouling of boat hulls and gear, hitching a ride with aquaculture stock, accidental release etc. through activities such as recreational boating, shipping, fishing activities, live bait, aquaculture and other industry. Examples include the Carpet Sea Squirt which gets its name from its smothering effect, covering habitats and manmade structures with a thick sheet or ‘carpet’. This species was first found in Wales in Holyhead marina covering algae, mussels and the pontoons and ropes. The American slipper limpet was introduced accidentally with a shipment of

oysters in the 19th century and is now widespread in the UK. These limpets form stacks and are a serious pest of oyster and mussel beds.

CASE STUDY: AMERICAN LOBSTER VS. EUROPEAN LOBSTER The American lobster is native to North Eastern America and although sightings are uncommon and there’s no evidence to suggest they have become established in the UK, it is possible. Two individuals have been recorded in North Wales (Pwllheli and Conwy). Sightings are believed to be as a result of the deliberate release or escape of specimens from captivity. In 2015, 361 invasive, non-native American lobsters were released in Brighton as part of a religious ceremony.

1 syndrome virus. The American lobster may also threaten our own European lobster by taking its food and shelter, in addition to possibly interbreeding. If the number of American lobsters in our waters increases this could have a significant impact on our native lobster fisheries. It has been estimated that the loss of the native lobster fishery would cost the British economy £26.5 million.

The American lobster resembles our native European lobster, but it is larger, up to 64cm in length and around 2kg in weight and has other noticeable differences. Evidence shows that American lobsters could introduce diseases such as white-spot syndrome and red tail disease which may spread to other animals. All crustaceans are potentially at risk from the white-spot

1,2 - American Lobster 3 - Records of invasive species around Wales

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PEN LLŶN A’R SARNAU SPECIAL AREA OF CONSERVATION BIOSECURITY PROJECT The main way to manage INNS is to prevent them from getting here in the first place and to do that we are creating a biosecurity plan. This is a three-year European Maritime and Fisheries Fund funded project run by Natural Resources Wales. The project will look at high risk sites and activities within the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation and how we can minimise the risk of INNS. Biosecurity means implementing simple things to prevent the introduction and spread of INNS such as raising awareness, providing guidance (e.g. about cleaning boat hulls/ gear after use and before moving to a new location, etc.), surveying areas so that we can detect them early, reporting them as soon as they are found and controlling the spread of those INNS that are already present. These measures are especially important for marine ecosystems, where INNS eradication and control techniques have been shown to be less effective and expensive. The PLAS SAC Officer, Alison Palmer Hargrave is providing project support throughout the project. This includes running a pilot project in Porthdinllaen which is looking at reducing the impact of an invasive seaweed called Wireweed on the native seagrass beds. The first step is to speak to those that use the area to identify potential pathways and to work out what information people need. If you would like to get involved with this project or have any information you would like to share please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you plasbiosecurity@ naturalresourceswales.gov.uk.


4 - Wireweed 5 - Carpet sea squirt 6 - American slipper limpet

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HOW TO REPORT YOUR INNS SIGHTINGS It’s not always easy to identify these species but there are some guides available to help you (please see links below). The biosecurity project will work to ensure that guides are available, and we are able to post/ email information to you.

THE BEST PLACE TO REPORT INNS: The LERC Wales app: www.lercwales.org.uk/app.php iRecord: www.nonnativespecies.org//index.cfm?sectionid=81

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION? YouTube video about INNS: www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoggtzYr4Qk RYA Biosecurity guidance: www.rya.org.uk/knowledge-advice/environmental-advice/Pages/invasive-non-native-species.aspx INNS ID guide: www.mba.ac.uk/fellows/bishop-group-associate-fellow#b18

Get in touch at plasbiosecurity@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk for any information you need or to discuss the biosecurity project.





O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021

At first these may look like plants but they are actually all incredibly beautiful animals. Top left: Dahlia anemone Right: Fan worm Bottom left: Sponge and anemone

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O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021

A MESSAGE FROM THE ARCTIC Ben Porter reveals how plastic waste is affecting the icy Arctic wilderness, after joining a pioneering student-led research expedition to Svalbard in summer 2018.

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fter spending half my life growing up on the isolated island of Ynys Enlli off the Llŷn Peninsula, it’s perhaps not surprising that I’ve developed a deep connection with the marine environment and the incredible life which it supports - from immense colonies of nesting seabirds to inquisitive grey seals weaving amongst underwater kelp forests. Conversely, this has also meant that I’ve become increasingly concerned and aware of the threats mounting against the oceans and its inhabitants - not least of all the threat of marine litter.

PLASTICS IN THE ARCTIC? In Autumn 2017, during my third year studying Conservation Biology at the University of Exeter, a series of shocking reports hit the headlines, including statements like: ‘Arctic becoming dumping ground for plastic waste’. These were accompanied by images of remote beaches and glacier-filled fjords plastered in marine litter and trash. A large proportion of this waste consisted of everyday household items, transported from populated areas like Northern Europe and even the UK to far-flung Arctic outposts on oceanic currents. The notion that trash carelessly thrown aside on a beach here in Wales, for example, could make it’s way to the remote waters and shores of eastern Greenland was horrifying, especially given the danger posed to the incredible wildlife that inhabits this wild frontier - Polar Bears, Walruses, Narwhals, Little Auks, Barnacle Geese and Brunich’s Guillemots to name a few. Worse still was the thought that most people might be unaware, ignorant or simply not care that this was happening. This series of reports during autumn 2017 fuelled the planning and development of a pretty ambitious project over the coming months, which would eventually bring together a group of 25 scientists, artists, filmmakers, campaigners, sailors and fellow students on an eye-opening

expedition to the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, some 600 miles from the North Pole.



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THE EXPEDITION Our aim was to ‘make the unseen visible’: spending two weeks aboard a 44-metre tall-ship trawling for microplastics in the water, surveying the open sea for large floating plastics, testing the air for microplastic fibres, listening for underwater noise pollution, conducting beach cleans and combining the varied skills of the team to bring the message about what is happening to the Arctic to a wider audience back home. The expedition was a truly incredible experience, but tainted deeply by our findings: it was sobering to see just how much plastic is making its way to this incredibly remote and apparently pristine environment - just 600 miles from the North Pole. There was plenty of fishing gear and netting strewn across the shores, but more disturbing was the typical household litter like bottle tops, plastic bottles, polystyrene blocks, cotton-bud sticks and cigarettes that we found on virtually every beach we visited. Some

items had clearly been transported a long way to reach the Arctic, like a Stornoway fishing crate and plastic nurdles (pre-production industrial plastic pellets).


Out at sea, our surface-water trawls revealed the more insidious ‘unseen’ pollutants we’d expect to see with this level of marine waster: minuscule plastic fragments and fibres barely a millimetre or two in size - pieces that could easily make their way into the very base of the Arctic food-web that supports millions of seabirds and countless charismatic mammals, from Narwhal and Beluga Whales to land predators such as Polar Bears. Studies in Svalbard, for example, have already found that 87.5% of the fulmars surveyed had plastic in their guts, with an average of 15 pieces per bird.

Look for cosmetic products that only contain natural scrubbing beads or biodegradable glitter.


THINK ABOUT TEA TIME Use loose tea and a strainer or plastic free tea bags. ADD A FILTER YOUR LAUNDRY Add a laundry filter ball or bag to your washer and dryer to help trap the micro fibres that are released SEPARATE YOUR FABRICS Wash tougher items like denim separately from synthetic fabrics like fleece jumpers to minimise abrasion that causes fibres to dislodge.

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O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021



Communication and outreach are integral aspects to our mission. Science can often be hard for the public to access or understand, hidden away in scientific journals or hiding behind a barrage of complicated jargon. By taking artists, photographers and film-makers aboard, we have been able to communicate our findings to a much wider audience in a plethora of ways – from paintings and sculptures to documentaries and photographic gallery exhibitions. Jess Grimsdale - one of the expedition artists - has been working on a children’s book about the trip; Tom Auld and Mari Huws have each produced impactful films about the trip which can be viewed online; and the imagery from the trip’s photographers has accompanied articles and exhibitions across the country.

‘Every lifestyle decision we take, every purchase we make has an impact on the kind of planet we want to live on. Our world needs clean and healthy seas. And we are the only ones who can make that happen. It starts with us, and it starts at home’. This inspiring quote from Lewis Pugh, who last year swam the length of the English channel to raise awareness of the plight of our seas, encapsulates the mindset we must adopt to tackle this issue. We can each and every one of us do our bit to change the crisis facing the natural environment: there are so many simple lifestyle changes that can - collectively - make a big impact on this issue. Avoiding single-use plastics is perhaps one of the biggest: those items that are used once and then discarded aside. Buying reusable water bottles and coffee cups is a good start to cut down on single-use plastics; saying no to plastic cutlery and straws in cafes and restaurants; stripping away pointless plastic at the supermarket till and telling branches to adopt plastic-free isles for their products. These are some small things to get going, but head over to websites like ‘Surfers Against Sewage’ to tap into a plethora or other simple actions you can take. Visit the Sail Against Plastic website for more information and how you can help: www.sailagainstplastic.com

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O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021

within our effective farming systems and that we carefully manage the impact of the increase of locals and visitors who walk along our shores, throughout the year, along the Wales Coast Path. Maintaining the quality of water that flows from the rivers to the sea is essential if we are to ensure that our beaches and the sea around us is clean, and that it maintains the special species that can be seen on the land, in the rivers and in the sea. It is difficult to manage the plastic in the sea and which is washed up on our beaches unless we collect it; however, it is essential that we behave responsibly in order to ensure that we do not contribute further towards this increasing problem. We must make sensible decisions in our daily lives, which leads to behaviour changes on a personal level, and more broadly, in order to turn the tide against waste if we are to prevent if from entering the food chain as it is broken down into microplastics by the might of the sea.

TIR A MÔR LLŶN PROJECT The Tir a Môr Llŷn Project, which is funded through Welsh Government’s ‘Sustainable Management Scheme’ is breaking new ground by encouraging close collaboration between the stakeholders who are responsible for managing the special natural resources on the land and on the sea surrounding the Llŷn Peninsula. Considering that the only way to leave the Peninsula without getting your feet wet is by travelling to the East, and the majority of the population live in towns and villages near the coast, it is natural to attempt to manage this special environment as one, and carefully consider the impact of any activity on a broader scale. We are all now starting to realise how the impacts of global warming are having an increasing influence on our lives in Llŷn, and with more

extreme weather comes more frequent drought, strong storms and heavy rain, out of season and for much longer periods. This project seeks to develop resilience within the local natural environment which will give the best opportunity for wildlife to survive by improving linkages and maintaining habitats along the coastal rim surrounding Llŷn. It is crucial that we attempt to ensure that species have an opportunity to move unobstructed

Through the Tir a Môr Llŷn project, we have developed learning resources that raise awareness of these issues, and we are attempting to inspire and

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develop further understanding of the special ecosystem that we live within amongst the children and young people of the area. By taking effective local action, we can identify new ways of responding to the challenges we are facing as our planet changes. The project is taking small steps that will hopefully encourage more collaboration and raise awareness about how we can make a positive contribution to these new challenges. We must respect our environment if we are to secure economic opportunities for the generations to come so that we can responsibly manage and sustainably harvest natural resources in the special area we live in.



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SEASHORE DETECTIVES Traditionally a summer venue, there is in reality no better time of year to head to the beach than Winter for a spot of Beachcombing.




Whilst stormy seas guarantee a good selection of natural and man-made treasures, brisk sea winds also have proven health benefits. Sea air accelerates our body’s ability to absorb oxygen and balance serotonin, a chemical linked with mood and stress, making us feel more energised. At a time of year when it may seem only fit to stay indoors, beachcombing is certainly a winter activity to be recommended and the coast of Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau is certainly not short of some of the best beachcombing beaches in Wales! A term, first appearing in print in Hermann Melville’s Omoo to describe convicts and absconded whaleboat men living off flotsam and jetsam washed up on South Pacific shores, beachcombing is more widely use today to describe the recreational activity of looking for curiosities washed up on beaches. Ultimately, beachcombing is just a good old game of playing detective where those taking part set out to collect evidence of our weird and wonderful underwater wildlife and the part they play in the mysteries taking place beneath our seas. The strandline is the best place to look for this evidence; close inspection reveals several different types of seaweeds and kelps on which you’ll often find the tiny worm casts of spiral worms. Remnants of a sea mat, a colony of tiny animals, often cover some of the larger kelps. A root around in the strandline may reveal some egg cases, affectionately known as Mermaid’s Purses, providing evidence of the presence of sharks, skates and rays in our waters. The shape and size of your discovery will reveal the identity of the species which has laid it. Whilst the bullhuss and the lesser spotted catshark, more commonly known as dogfish, have curly tendrils on each corner, skates and rays have horns.


One of the most common finds is the egg masses of whelks; interestingly, the first few eggs to hatch eat their sibling eggs. With their spiral shaped shells, whelks are some of the most well-known, however a huge variety of seashells can be found. Setting a challenge of counting as many different types as possible will surprise anyone at just how many can be found! Delve deeper and look for signs of murder - small round holes in the shells of some species reveal the presence of the beautiful, but deadly, necklace shell. This animal prowls the sea floor for victims - other seashells - and it uses its tongue to drill a hole in a victim’s shell before sucking out its soft body. After a series of big storms, evidence of far flung lands can be found as tropical sea beans (seed pods) of vine plants are pushed out of the Atlantic, into the Irish Sea and eventually


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onto the beaches. These are rare but wonderful finds proving that our seas are all connected. It’s always worth looking more carefully for sea beans if you come across goose barnacles. Goose barnacles, with their long stalks and plated shells, can be found growing on debris flung onshore after floating out to sea – they are a sure sign that the winter storms have been pushing interesting objects from afar. It is not uncommon to find stranded seals washed up during the winter months, particularly those of young seal pups, victims of some of the storms that hit our shores. Porpoises and dolphins are often victims to the same fate whilst, on rarer occasions, we may come across some of the larger whales. However, although incredibly interesting, this is evidence that should never be tampered with. These creatures, like us, are mammals and disease and viruses can easily spread. Changing with each and every tide, our beaches reveal some of the mysteries of our underwater world, presenting us with evidence of the different creatures present and the relationships between them. So, why not head out and join in with the giant game of coastal “Cluedo” – it even has health benefits!




You can beachcomb almost anywhere, all beaches and even rocky shores have a strandline that can be explored, but here are a few places we love to go:



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WALES COAST PATH WILDLIFE WATCHING WALK 1 MACHROES TO PORTH NEIGWL/HELLS MOUTH Time: approximately 4 hrs, moderate level walk Start: Machroes car park SH317265 Finish: Porth Neigwl/Hells Mouth car park SH284266 Places to eat: Porth Tocyn Hotel near Machroes and the Sun Inn, Llanengan The walk follows the Wales Coast Path, weaves around Trwyn y Wylfa and Cilan headlands with amazing views out to sea across Cardigan Bay towards Bardsey Island and plenty of opportunities for a swim at Porth Ceiriad and Porth Neigwl on a sunny warm summers day.

1. This walk follows the Wales Coast Path around the headland at Trwyn Yr Wylfa with expansive views out over to the Tudwal Islands and Cardigan Bay, where Dolphins and Porpoises can often be seen out at sea. If there is a big sea swell, dolphins will play in the crashing waves that hit the cliffs at Trwyn Yr Wylfa and into Porth Ceiriad. It is worth walking to the end of Trwyn Yr Wylfa, where you can sit and eat your lunch whilst looking into Porth Ceiriad, this area of grazed cliff top where the rocks are close to the surface is fabulous in spring for its wildflowers, lichens and stone crop.

2. Carry on along the Wales Coastal Path behind Porth Ceiriad where you can often sea Chough, Ravens and Kestrels, rabbits and sometimes hares too, not to mention the wealth of sea birds occupying the cliffs. Enjoy the beach if you have time, popular with surfers as well as swimmers and families, it is a beautiful bay. Continuing along the path you are led up along the cliffs towards and the Iron Age Hill Fort of Castell Parred Mawr, with traditional clawdd banks which surround the fields and support communities of wildflowers like hair bell, campion and thrift dependant on this dry sunny environment, if you are really lucky you might spot lizards and slow worms on these warm clawdd banks.

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3. Continue around Trwyn Cilan and Mynydd Cilan, a spectacle in early summer for its coastal heathland with its purple heather and yellow gorse which bloom together creating an amazing carpet of colour. The path leads you through the heathland and on around the headland to Porth Neigwl/Hells Mouth, a four mile long beach, where the sea itself is a sight to be behold, especially on a blusterous day, again the opportunity to spot dolphins, porpoise and seals is always possible. There is also often a good collection of surfers on this beach if there is a good swell, due to the impressive waves you get here. 4. From here, you can either finish the walk at Porth Neigwl, or you can choose any of a multitude of footpaths to take you back across the headland to Machroes making it into a circular walk. There is also the option of going to the Sun Inn in Llanengan for a meal, which is open in the summer and on weekends.



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What if everybody just picked up some plastic whilst on their daily walk, surely that would clear up a lot

Do it for David litter pick in Oswestry


rapping my scarf tighter around my neck, I begin scanning the sand for bits of plastic and litter. Almost immediately I found an area where hundreds of plastic bottle tops had been washed up. It was a cold Christmas day, and our family had decided to walk the dogs at our local beach – Hells Mouth (Porth Neigwl) in North Wales. As always, we brought with us some bags to collect the plastic and debris that had been dropped by visitors or washed up with the tide. We had been doing small beach cleans and litter picks during our walks for some time now. Looking at

the ground, we saw endless amounts of plastic littering our beloved beach. Plastic bottles, bags, straws, and food containers filled our bags until we couldn’t carry anymore. We also noticed tiny fragments of plastic that had obviously been broken down and deposited onto the beach by the sea. We felt heartbroken to see our beach littered with so much plastic, and an increasing frustration built inside of us as we realised the enormity of the issue, not just here, but around the world. There must be something more we could do. As we looked at our bags of

Becky (left) and Mandy (right) are the women behind the Do it for David Campaign

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A personal thank you letter from Sir David Attenborough

A Do it for David beach clean at Hells Mouth, where it all started

rubbish we thought “What if everybody just picked up some plastic whilst on their daily walk, surely that would clear up a lot”. It was such a simple idea; but why would anybody listen to us? Then we thought about our own inspiration for looking after our environment – Sir David Attenborough. We had been watching David’s programmes on the BBC for years, but it was the revolutionary ‘Blue Planet II’ that really

We sent a little girl in Nigeria some books about plastic pollution who wanted to help us

inspired us to take action against plastic pollution. We thought “Well, they might not do it for us, but they might do it for David!”. And thus, the ‘Do it for David’ campaign was born! Becky (left) and Mandy (right) are the women behind the Do it for David Campaign We have organised several litter picks in towns along canals and rivers

Mandy at the One Show with Alex Jones

as well as beach cleans. However, our campaign largely encourages people to pick up plastic within their local community when they go for a walk, as the majority of plastic which ends up in the ocean is actually blown from inland rivers and communities (ACS, 2017). Clean ups are a great way to help protect our oceans from plastic pollution, and they don’t have to take long! You can collect a lot of plastic in just two minutes.



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However, we know that picking up plastic alone is not going to solve the issue of plastic pollution. The key is education; encouraging people to reduce their plastic consumption in the first place; and putting pressure on businesses and manufacturers to eliminate plastic products and packaging. If plastic isn’t produced or used in the first place, it wouldn’t be floating out in our oceans where it harms our wildlife and washes up on our beautiful beaches! Do it for David has encouraged numerous businesses to reduce their plastic footprint and has motivated people to become more mindful of their consumption of it. We have met with councilors, written to supermarkets, given talks at schools, held plasticawareness days, spoken on radio stations, and even featured on ‘The One Show’! People all over the world have responded to our campaign, being inspired to reduce their consumption of plastic and helping us to clean up our beautiful world. We have even received a personal letter from Sir David Attenborough himself thanking us for a scrapbook we sent him on his birthday about our campaign! We are completely overwhelmed by the response. Earlier this year, Mandy also set up her own business selling amazing plastic-free products at markets and online at: www.plasticfree-uk.com.

If you want to start your own journey to reducing your plastic-consumption you can also head over to www.plasticfree-uk.com References ACS. 2017. Export of plastic by rivers into the sea. ACS. Available from: https://www. acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2017/october/better-managingplastic-waste-in-a-handful-of-rivers-could-stem-plastics-in-the-ocean.html

Our first plastic-awareness day

We realise the world cannot live without SOME plastic, after all it was manufactured to be incredibly durable and versatile; but there really is no need for single-use plastics. It’s time for change. We created this problem, and now it’s time to fix it. We live in a beautiful world, and it’s up to us to protect it. Do it for yourself, do it for future generations, Do it for David! If you’d like to join Do it for David or to find out more, head to our Facebook or Instagram page and become part of a community of over 10,000 people dedicated to fight the plastic pollution problem.

Our followers are so passionate they dress up in whale outfits!

Many businesses have been inspired to reduce their waste and plastic consumption like this fishmongers in Camberley

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PLASTIC FREE JULY The North Wales Wildlife Trust’s marine team, as well as our Education and Community Officer and his entire young family, took the decision to take part in going a month without single-use plastic last year and are planning on the same for this year too. Here’s how we got on, on the whole; our wins, pitfalls/difficulties and what we plan to change ready for this year’s endeavour. The surprising thing for most from the beginning was that no amount of planning and previous experience can prepare you for the first few days. It hits you then, when you realise there’s something important you’ve forgotten. We began to share ideas, websites and chances to bulk buy in a group well beforehand (toilet roll, loose tea, coffee, soap and toothpowder - essentials you can overlook). Many got caught out by not planning lunch, as it’s difficult to buy lunch on the go without singleuse plastic: “I tend to buy lunch and dinner daily, so trying to alter my whole routing to fit in with this was very hard.” - Andy O’Callaghan, Our Wild Coast, Project Officer. We soon got into the swing of things, though and although you have to think hard and plan well, it’s nowhere near impossible and we’ve all continued at least a few things into the rest of the year. It was a pricey month, however and makes you think about your purchasing overall, which for the planet is a good thing. Malan, our youngest single-use plastic-free July team member was even busier than the rest of us, because she was in charge of the Facebook posts. Her journey through the month, what she found difficult, how she found her way around it and how she prepared herself is now a BLOG on our website. Her dad, Iwan and the rest of her family all made changes, which shows that even with children (we would argue, especially because you have children) this is worthwhile to do. It really is one of those things you HAVE to try, to know what it’s like. The best thing about doing this was the discussions we had with friends, family, other colleagues, the wider public, people in shops and online purchasing. We had plenty of wins over the course of the month and beyond. Charlotte Keen our “Our Wild Coast” Project Officer had a “Win” whilst at a festival: “I had to have a small argument with an irate barman at a festival, which resulted in the awesome bar manager lady giving him a verbal clip round the ear with ‘this lady is trying to save the planet, give her a pint in her own cup for goodness sakes!’”. Andy O’Callaghan found his housemate, who had shown very little interest, was planning some changes: “I’ve just realised all of the plastic in this house is mine now and there is so much. I’ve got to start buying things not wrapped in plastic”. The Living Seas Cymru team received handbaked crackers and flapjacks instead of a bought gift from the parents of their Work Experience student when they heard we were going singleuse plastic-free. We’re planning on doing the Marine Conservation Society’s Plasticfree July again this year. We’re hoping more people will join in and we’ll be posting and blogging throughout July on our Facebook pages and website. “Generally, I think it made me really aware of the single use plastics that we rely on all the time, but also that with some forward planning and the confidence to speak up about it, it is possible to avoid single use plastics.” - Charlotte Keen.



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swimming in the sea in the summer and I was very lucky to have the company of a seal last year. Although I had counted four of them out in the sea at Ynysgain once, this one (a chubby one, which obviously loves munching mackerel!), has appeared many times and during our first encounters, his Darth Vader breathing behind me was enough to frighten the life out of me! As I write this, it is now February, and he is long gone for this year. I would really love to know where he is at this moment in time and I really hope that he will return. As he disappeared, so did the hot weather; soon to be replaced by the stormy and windy season. And with the high tide comes the real disaster. It is so disappointing to see how much rubbish and plastic reaches these lovely beaches - tonnes I’d assume. From huge oil cans and margarine tubs to Coke bottles and small Lego pieces.

FREE MIND AND PLASTIC ROPES Llinos Griffin gives us an insight into her creative way to up-cycle beach litter. The view towards Cricieth from Porthmadog is never the same. The town itself also changes with the seasons. The hustle and bustle of the tourist season slowly calms down. The sun’s bright reflection on the sea disappears and then come the roars of the winter months. That’s why I like the place. I run my own business from my flat and it is important for me to go for my ‘fix’ and escape to the beach at least twice a week to relax, be that just a matter of sitting down on one of the rocks on Morannedd beach or going to hear the sound of the waves after nightfall. It makes a world of difference to one’s mood. Even more so, there is huge solace to be taken from the fact that I am able to see one of my other favourite places from Cricieth beach. The Rhinogydd Mountains stand somewhat protective there,

looking towards us across the bay. It’s also hard not to think of all the history that this coastline has seen in the past, with the two castles standing so prominently in the landscape, and let’s not forget all the boats and ships that would have sailed past from Porthmadog during the slate industry’s heyday. The horizon is vast, and so is its history. Yes, this part of our coastline is incredible. Last year, another wonder came to my attention. I really love going

I started to collect some of it, and as I did so, I came across plastic ropes of all shapes and sizes - many of them entangled in the seaweed; so I grabbed some scissors and cut and cleared them and as I took them home, I didn’t know whether or not

Issue 2 2021 O Dan y Don

they were recyclable. Although the situation is so saddening, there was also something beautiful in them with all their bright colours, so I took them into the house, washed them thoroughly in the bath to disinfect them, took them apart and started to sew. It has now become a hobby, it is very therapeutic and relatively easy to do. They also make very cheap birthday presents! Apart from helping me relax after a busy day’s work, I take solace from the fact that no bird will be strangled by these pieces and that they will never end up in the stomach of my adoptive seal either. I suppose, at least, the idea tries to bring a glimmer of hope on the seriousness of the heart-breaking situation that we now see time and time again in photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank heavens that so many local groups have come together to clean up over the past years, and everyone can play their part. Personally, I feel that the major industries of the world has the greatest responsibility. Where did the journey of all these ropes and all this rubbish begin? It is the major companies that will be able to get rid of the problem completely, without a doubt; however, we can all do the small things and pick-up a handful of plastic every time we go to the beach. And start to sew. Why not?



O Dan y Don Issue 2 2021


BEACH CLEANS Taking part in a beach clean is an excellent way to help look after the marine environment. There are many beach cleans arranged across the site all year round, you can just turn up and take part! Keep an eye on our social media pages for up to date information. If joining a group is not your thing why not take a bag with you and spend a little time cleaning a beach of your choice? Or if you are in Cricieth you can take part in the #2minbeachclean – information board and equipment can be found outside Dylan’s Restaurant on the beach (dependent on current conditions). Please check the Welsh Governments latest guidelines on how to pick up litter safely #LoveWelshBeaches.



Marine litter, especially plastics, is now a global issue. Single use plastic bags, food wrappers, straws and plastic bottles are just a few of things that are finding their way in to our oceans. A great way you can help is to reduce the amount of single use plastic items you use and recycle when you can. You can also ask for non-plastic or biodegradable items when out and about. This is a global issue but each and every one of us can make a difference.

If you see interesting wildlife whilst you are out and about, let someone know. By reporting your sightings, you are helping us to build a better picture of what we have along our coast.

SEAL PUPS With an increase in walking along our coast we need to be mindful of other animals that use the space. If you see a seal pup on your travels remember to keep your distance. It may look like it’s all alone but the mother is usually close by.

FOLLOW THE MARINE CODE If you are out on the water, a great way to reduce your impact is to follow the Marine Code and let others know about it too. This is all about making sure we don’t disturb our marine mammals and birds whilst we are out at sea. The main principles to follow are: •

Look out for wildlife

Keep your distance

Reduce speed and sound

GET INVOLVED IN LOCAL PROJECTS We set up projects to tackle different issues across the site including litter, marine mammal disturbance and loss of seagrass. If you would like to be involved in any of our projects please do let us know. You can also keep an eye on our social media platforms for more information.

info@penllynarsarnau.co.uk www.penllynarsarnau.co.uk 01286 679495

@ ACA_PLAS_SAC Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau

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