Aug 18, 2021 | Explore, Love, Nature

Discover our coastline: marine wildlife from Penally to Tenby


Common Whelk sitting on sand.

Common Whelk. © Sue Burton


Located not far from the beach, Penally railway station is a perfect destination if you want to embark on a shoreline safari, hunting down the countless fascinating creatures that occupy this spectacular stretch of Wales’ coastline.

At low tide, a 30-minute walk will take you along the beach to Tenby, with lovely views out to Caldey Island along the way.

For Sue Burton, SAC officer, Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation, and Alec Denny, Sustainable Recreation Officer for Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, this is an area full of life and interest.

As a way to start exploring, Sue recommends wandering along the strand line (the line of washed-up seaweed and driftwood that marks the reach of the tide). Here you’ll find egg masses from the common whelk, seamats (colonies of tiny animals), jellyfish and mermaids’ purses – which are actually shark egg sacs.


Mermaid's Purse at Penally.

Mermaid’s Purse at Penally. © Sue Burton


At low tide, if you walk towards the sea, you may also find exposed areas of rocky reef – outcrops of rock that spend much of their time submerged under water.

“You can actually see lots of rocky shore creatures there, including anemones and sponges in the overhangs and damp crevices, and maybe crabs and prawns,” says Sue.

This stretch of the coastline is also home to seabirds such as gulls, kittiwakes and fulmars – but that’s not all. “If you want to dip your feet in the sea, sometimes you will see sand gobies, sea bass and small flat fish coming in on the waves,” says Alec.

The area is also home to plenty of seals, and if you’re very lucky you might spot a basking shark. 

If you want more guidance to help you discover this area, download the Pembrokeshire Marine Code app, which provides a comprehensive guide to the creatures of the Pembrokeshire coastline, along with maps and guidelines that will help you avoid disturbing them. Did you know, for example, that when marine birds are upset, they will start nodding their heads? By learning to spot these types of warning signs you can enjoy seeing the animals from a safe distance without scaring them off and feel safe in the knowledge that you are causing them no distress or disruption.

“The three main messages of the Marine Code are: plan ahead, keep your distance and reduce speed and sound,” says Alec. “In the app there are details of the wildlife that you will find along the Pembrokeshire coast, with different sections on different types of animals, as well as plants, wildflowers and seaweeds.”

Remember, when you explore the shoreline you’re visiting a place that is home to many creatures, so, as Sue says: “Please do your bit to pick up litter and marine plastic debris and help make the beach better for people and wildlife. If you’re not sure what something is don’t touch it!”


Useful links:

Pembrokeshire Marine Code App

Find Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum on Facebook and Twitter.

Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Website

Find the Pembrokeshire Marine Wildlife SAC on Facebook and Twitter

Skip to content