A huge basking shark washed up on Broad Haven South beach earlier this year
There have been a number of unusual sightings along Wales’ coastline so far this year.
During the first half of 2021 a whole host of sea creatures and mammals have been spotted on our sands as well as swimming around in the sea.
There’s been everything from a 23ft-long basking shark to stingrays – and of course a walrus that made himself rather comfortable while on holiday in a Pembrokeshire seaside town for several weeks.
Here’s what people have spotted in and around Welsh beaches this year.
Wally the walrus
Wally the Walrus arrived in Tenby earlier this year
One of the most famous sightings has been Wally the walrus who arrived in Tenby in March this year.
During his time in the popular seaside town the walrus made many appearances on the lifeboat station’s slipway and even attempted climbing onboard nearby boats.
People from across Wales, and further afield, flocked to Tenby to try and catch a glimpse of him with the destination getting so popular that visitors were warned about getting too close to him.
Since his visit to Pembrokeshire Wally has been spotted in France, Spain and, more recently, the Isles of Scilly.
23ft-long basking shark with missing head
An unknown ‘blob’ washed up on a Pembrokeshire beach initially left experts bemused
In March this year a mysterious-looking creature appeared on Broad Haven South beach, in Pembrokeshire, and initially left experts dumbfounded as to what it actually was.
The creature, which measured in at seven metres in length and had most of its head missing, was first thought to be a whale due to the size of it but on closer inspection the Marine Environmental Monitoring organisation sent some images to the Natural History Museum, which confirmed that it was a basking shark.
A spokesman for Marine Environmental Monitoring explained at the time: “Basking sharks are in the waters around the British coastline but it is rare for them to wash up in Wales.
“The basking shark is the second-largest shark with the adults growing to around eight metres in length, which is possibly how long this one was when it died. The whale shark is the only one that grows larger. Like the whale shark the basking shark is a filter feeder with a greatly enlarged mouth.”
Stingray spotted at Barry Island
A woman found a stingray washed up on the beach at Barry Island
A woman out for a walk with her two children and their dog had a shock when they spotted a stingray on the beach at Barry Island back in March.
The 30-year-old, from Cardiff, said that it seemed “strange” to see as she’d never come across any on a Welsh beach before.
Stingrays are more commonly found in warmer waters like the Mediterranean but do sometimes wash up on beaches in Wales after straying into UK waters.
They can grow up to 5ft across and weigh up to 80lbs and are commonly found in sandy or muddy habitats in coastal waters shallower than 60 metres.
Remains of large creature in Porthcawl
The decomposing body of a large sea creature was discovered near Rest Bay, in Porthcawl, in April.
Lisa Richard, from Swansea, described it as being “about four-and-a-half-feet long” and initially thought it was the remains of Wally the walrus, who had recently turned up on the coast of south-west Wales.
One wildlife expert explained that its advanced state of decomposition makes identification difficult although she admitted that it could be the carcass of a seal.
The remains appeared to have four flipper-like feet and was bigger in size than one of Miss Richard’s pet collies.