This year I couldn’t be happier to hear it’s #YearOfTheSea in Wales. Why? Because Wales has over 870 miles of astounding coastline met by some of the UK’s wildest seas!
Being welsh I might be biased but I do believe Wales is home to some of the UK’s wildest spots. The ocean around Wales is uniquely rich due to warm waters from the south meeting cool nutrient rich currents from the north creating a home for an abundance of wildlife. I spend a lot of my time exploring Wale’s wild spaces and two of my absolute favourite moments off of Wales include swimming with puffins and kayaking around Grassholm island.
I had just spent a day on Skomer island and the sun was beginning to set. At this time of day there are always notably more puffins rafting out at sea which inspired me to also finish my day with a bit of a sea swim. As I climbed into the water I had very little expectation of what encounter I would have – but I could see so much detail! The small grooves of their vibrant bill, droplets of water roll of their sooty dark feathers and their paddle like orange feet. It was so quiet (apart from the rowdy guillemots on the cliffs of course) and it was just me and hundreds of puffins bobbing about at the surface – something I will never forget!
My second favourite wildlife encounter was when I headed out to Grassholm island to film the gannets from a single kayak. There was a big swell and it only added to the dramatic scene that unfolded before us. I was immersed in the sounds, smells and sights of thousands of gannets. There’s something really special about this guano capped island and the way the gannets dominate it. Being in a tiny kayak with gannets diving all around me and circling overhead was really unforgettable and also makes it into the top spot for one of my favourite experiences.
I get really excited at the thought of sharing this wonderfully wild part of the UK with others and so this year I am running my very own Wild Ocean Expeditions! The trips are all about seeing Wale’s wonderful wildlife while bringing people closer to nature. Sea swimming, island hopping, photography tips and close encounters with wildlife – these trips are about encouraging younger people to immerse themselves with wildlife on their doorstep. On one of the trips I will be landing on Skomer island, to visit one of the largest colony of puffins in the UK. This is followed by a private land on Skokholm island to watch the seals and seal pups and talk about the island’s history. I am also keen to highlight some of the less celebrated species such as Manx shearwater. My second wildlife adventure will be visiting Grassholm island as well as photographing the diving gannets and resident dolphins. This will then be followed by a sunset swim off of one of the islands. During each trip I will be sharing my passion and knowledge of wildlife with others but mostly I will let nature speak for itself. I will also be highlighting important ways people can help protect our oceans such as getting involved in beach cleans, picking up plastic and learning about the conservation work off the Wales.