#MustSeaScotland's Wildlife!

Date published: 22 January 2020

From majestic red deer to comical puffins and soaring sea eagles, Scotland’s seas, skies and shores are home to a huge range of incredible wildlife – and there’s no better way to discover them than on a #MustSeaScotland sailing adventure!

We’ve picked out just a few of Scotland’s amazing animals – along with where and when to see them – to help you explore our wild places and discover the wild things that call them home during our Year of Coasts and Waters 2020!

Grab your free Sail Scotland brochure, create your own unforgettable moments as you sail Scotland and make sure you share them with us on social media by tagging them with #MustSeaScotland or uploading them to our gallery!


Where to see them: St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

When to see them: Spring

These comical wee birds bring their lovably clownish faces back to Scotland each spring, where they never fail to enthral visitors with their antics. For an unforgettable #MustSeaScotland moment, head for the lost world of St Kilda. This isolated archipelago is home to soaring sea cliffs, abandoned villages, unforgettable landscapes – and the largest colony of puffins in Europe!

Can’t wait to see these wee beauties in person? Pay them a virtual visit in our 360-degree video! For the full experience, simply click the image below, head to our YouTube channel and see the videos in their full-screen glory!

Don't miss: The chance to see a wild thing with two hooves in the past

The beautiful puffins aren't the only wild attraction of St Kilda. Every Soay sheep in the world is descended from those found on the island of Soay in the archipelago. These bonny wee sheep are one of the most primitive forms of the breed in the world and have probably remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. 

Bottlenose dolphins

Where to see them: Moray Firth

When to see them: Spring/summer

One of the best places in Europe to see dolphins in the wild, the marvellous Moray Firth is estimated to be home to more than 130 of the playful creatures. Set sail for a magical experience as you watch them frolic in this stunning ocean inlet.

Don't miss: The chance to refuel with a fishy feast

Rocpool in nearby Inverness offers up a menu celebrating the very best of Scottish seafood. Pop along for fish so fresh even a dolphin wouldn't turn its (bottle)nose up at it!

(c) Sue Middleton

Grey seals

Where to see them: Isle of May, Firth of Forth

When to see them: Year-round

While it was once the domain of Vikings and smugglers, today grey seals (Scotland’s largest species of seal) rule the Isle of May. Set sail and see these beautiful animals sunning themselves on the coast or gliding through the water year-round. 

Don't miss: The chance to see a seal nursery

Head to the Isle of May between late September and late November and you might just catch a glimpse of a grey seal pup - or a whole nursery-worth! The island has been known to welcome more than 2,000 of the wee beauties!

(c) Gary Newbury

White-tailed sea eagles

Where to see them: Skye

When to see them: Year-round

The UK’s largest bird of prey, these giants of the sky have a wingspan of almost 2.5 metres and stand nearly a metre tall! Watching one of these majestic birds soaring through the sky before diving and snatching prey from the sea is a breathtaking experience - one of the very best reasons you #MustSeaScotland!

Don't miss: A meal that’ll dance on your palette like moonlight on the Fairy Pools

The renowned Three Chimneys at Loch Dunvegan offers up an array of fantastic food that reflects the amazing variety of Skye’s authentic, natural larder from sky, land and sea. Truly unforgettable. 

Basking sharks

Where to see them: Inner Hebrides

When to see them: Summer

Set sail for the Inner Hebrides between May and September and you might just find yourself sharing its waters with the second biggest fish on the planet – the mighty basking shark. Don’t worry, these gentle giants only feed on plankton – but seeing them glide through the water, mouths agape, is a humbling, epic experience.

Don't miss: The chance to swim with giants

Delve into the deep with Basking Shark Scotland, who offer high adventure, low impact, eco-conscious diving tours led by marine biologists. One reason you #MustSeaScotland? The chance to dive into the biggest basking shark hotspot in the world!


Where to see them: Orkney

When to see them: Summer

Catching a glimpse of the “whale of the kingdom of the dead” as it scythes through the sea is something you won’t easily forget. These massive mammals – the largest member of the dolphin family, despite their name – are rare but can be spotted off the shores of Orkney in summer.

Don't miss: The chance to seek out the secrets of Skara Brae

Uncovered by a wild storm in 1850, the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae on Orkney is the best-preserved Neolithic village in northern Europe and one of Scotland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Set sail and see the world as it was before the pyramids were raised against the Egyptian sky and before the first rock was laid at Stonehenge.

Red deer

Where to see them: Jura, Inner Hebrides

When to see them: Autumn

The red deer stag – majestic, noble and powerful – is one of the undeniable symbols of Scotland. Set sail for the wild, untamed and utterly unforgettable island of Jura for the chance to see its famous herds of red deer, which outnumber its human inhabitants by 25 to 1! Head there in the autumn for the chance to see in an incredible (and violent) spectacle as the island’s stags battle for dominance and the right to mate with the females – but be sure to keep your distance!

Don't miss: The chance to drain a dram right from the barrel

A visit to Jura promises spectacular, untamed landscapes, glittering seas and an unforgettable dram. Founded in 1810, Jura Distillery fell into disuse by the late 1800s before being rebuilt in 1963 by two dedicated locals. Today it produces whisky as adventurous as the island it calls home. Pop along and see (and taste!) for yourself. 

Red squirrel

Where to see them: Highlands

When to see them: Year-round

Home to 75% of the UK’s population, there’s no better place than Scotland to see these pretty wee animals. Much smaller (and fluffier!) than their grey counterparts, you can spot them dashing around the forests of the Highlands year-round. Taking a trip to seek them out? Bring hazelnuts – these wee beauties love them!

Don't miss: The chance to follow in the footsteps of Gods

Carved through the heart of the mighty peaks and rolling forests of the Great Glen, the incomparable Caledonian Canal is also home to Neptune’s Staircase. The longest lock flight in Scotland and set in the shadow of mighty Ben Nevis, climbing it is an unforgettable experience. This. This is why you simply #MustSeaScotland!