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It was a warm and clear mid-September day, and I took my snorkel and mask out into Cable Bay on Anglesey. The water was clear and through the kelp and seaweeds of the shallow shore, catsharks and velvet swimming crabs appeared and scuttled away again concealing themselves among the rocks. Following a school of small silver fish, I came into a clear patch of water where the suns rays shined clear to the sand below. As I watched the fish, they suddenly turned in unison and darted to either side around me, and as they parted, suddenly, I was met face to face with a little diving bird, only a couple of feet away, who must have scattered the fish and who appeared just as surprised to see me as I was them. The little bird waited a moment, assessing, then with such powerful ease raced away through the water and it's sleek form and disappeared around a rock. At first, my mind thought it must be a penguin, maybe escaped from the zoo? Small, black and white colouring, and so clearly adapted to underwater hunting. The swim went on and the sun rose higher into the afternoon, finally, as I drifted back into the shore, the little bird appeared again, this time on the surface, regarding me calmly from a short distance away. After closer inspection, I could see it was a little Auk, floating alone and idly on the waves. The bird dipped and dived until eventually disappearing off around the coastline. I always think of that bird every time I go back to Anglesey and snorkel now, in awe of the ease of which it swam so fast and elegantly under the water, a privilege to see such a well adapted hunter in its natural environment, a rare sight indeed! I now regard all coastal birds with a new-found admiration.
Living Seas Wales: LSW_N_0032_01

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