Surprise, surprise!

Sunfish. Photo: Steve Hartley

Sunfish. Photo: Steve Hartley

Basking Shark. Photo: Dan Burton

Basking Shark. Photo: Dan Burton

Wales is a popular destination for both people and marine wildlife alike.

During the summer months Welsh waters are visited by a number of surprising species that most people would never expect to find here!

The ocean sunfish is the largest of the bony fishes and they visit our seas to feast upon jellyfish.

An odd looking fish, their body is flat and circular and they have two elongated fins that look like wings. You can spot these strange animals resting on their side at the surface of the sea basking in the sun, hence the name! With their fin near to the surface they are often mistaken for sharks but they are unmistakable when seen up close.

Between May and October basking sharks, the second largest fish in the world, can also be spotted in our waters.

These 8 metre (26ft) long, ocean giants are filter feeders, opening their mouth up to a metre wide and filtering plankton from the water! Basking sharks are rarely seen during the winter months as they spend their time in deeper water feeding on plankton.

The most surprising of our summer visitors is the leatherback turtle and like the sunfish they come here to feed on jellyfish.

The largest individual ever record was found dead on a North Wales beach and he was around 2m long, weighed over 900kg and was believed to be over 100 years old! Leatherback turtles are unique amongst turtles as they can happily survive in colder seas, allowing them to live at higher latitudes where there are more jellyfish.

For further information on The Wildlife Trusts marine work please visit or Follow us on Facebook and Twitter too @Wtsww  and @LivingSeasWales