RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling Sully Island for the first time over the next couple of weeks in a bid to reduce the numbers of visitors cut off by high tides.

Last year saw a record number of rescues by Penarth RNLI volunteers who were called out more than 20 times to assist people cut off by the tide. Visitors getting trapped on the island accounted for a third of their call-outs in 2017.

Many people get trapped on the island after walking across during the low tide but end up becoming stuck after the tide changes.

In previous reports from the Penarth Times over the years on people becoming stranded on the island, the RNLI has said that some calls could have “easily ended in tragedy”.

Jason Dunlop, Penarth’s lifeboat operations manager said: “We have been working for years to reduce the risk of drowning at Sully Island. This new approach working with our RNLI Lifeguards South Wales is a further step to reduce the risk of incidents at the island.

"Having worked on this project for over 10 years I believe that this measure will support the work we have done to date and hopefully prevent incidents at the Island."

During periods of high risk, RNLI lifeguards will be on hand to make a thorough sweep of the island prior to high tides, offering safety advice to visitors and keeping a log of anyone who chooses to stay on the island while the causeway is covered.

Matt Childs, the RNLI Lifeguard supervisor for south east Wales, said: “We’ll be in communication with HM Coastguard at Milford and also the local Coast Watch station throughout these times and will remain on site until the causeway is flooded, giving general safety advice to visitors. Hopefully our proactive approach will reduce the need for us to rescue anyone.”

He added: “This is a site where people could lose their lives, so if you do get stuck on the island we would always advise you to stay put, don’t try to get back across the water, but stay calm and ring the Coastguard on 999.”

The tiny island is cut off twice a day when the tide comes in and is only accessible across a rocky causeway at low tide, a walk of around 40 minutes. It remains a popular attraction for people.