What is the Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau SAC?
If you were to take an underwater journey through Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau, within half an hour you could pass by rocky shores covered in limpets, hermit crabs and gobies before swimming over a sandy seabed alive with flatfish, dragonet fish and sea mice. You could take a peek into dark sea caves, with walls carpeted in anemones and baked bean sea squirts. You might see a conger eel peeping out, or a grey seal having a rest!
You could pass through the deep open water to find ten-meter long basking sharks sieving plankton with their huge mouths, and dolphins and porpoises leaping above the waves. Further on, bubbling reefs make the water fizz with gas bubbles, before you climb out of the water onto one of the rocky Sarnau reefs or relax with baby bass and mullet in the creeks and channels of the coastal estuaries.
Because of all of these varied and unusual underwater landscapes, type of seabed (habitat), and the amazing animals and plants that live here, Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau is protected as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Special Areas of Conservation are chosen because they have some of the best examples in Europe of special wildlife areas, creatures and plants that need looking after.
You might think that Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau is an unusual name. It represents a huge site encompassing Pen Llŷn (the Llŷn peninsula) to the north and the Sarnau reefs to the south, as well as the large estuaries along the coast of Meirionnydd and north Ceredigion. Named after the Welsh word for causeway, the Sarnau are three rocky reefs that extend up to 24 km out to sea. Legend had it that you could walk all the way to Ireland when the reefs were exposed at low tide. Pity the poor person who tried it, and found himself stranded all that way out to sea!
For more information on the background of SACs click here.