Scotland has three of its borders surrounded by sea therefore marine life here is plentiful. In fact the Scottish coast is one of the best coastlines in Europe to see a wide range of sea life in their natural habitat. So what can we expect to see when visiting the coast of Scotland? Here we take a look at the vast array of sea creatures living in these amazing waters.
There is a huge population of seals living off the coast of Scotland including many different species namely, grey seals, ringed seals, harp seals, common seals that can be seen all year round, hooded and bearded seals. The chance of spotting some of these amazing creatures is certainly high for visitors as seventy percent of Europe's grey seals live off the Scottish coast. Whether it’s the Isle of Mull, Mull of Galway or Shetland you choose to visit seals are definitely on the agenda here.
Otters are another sea creature that can be seen in the seas off Scotland as well as inland in canals and rivers. It is not as easy to spot otters as it is seals as they are quiet shy creatures that like their privacy and often settle in caves where they rear their young. They do however feed on fish and water birds therefore with a little patience visitors may see otters in action when searching for food. Shetland is probably the best place to see otters although the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Skye are also areas where otters sometimes gather.
When we think of spotting sea creatures we immediately think of the majestic whale, while Scotland is a great destination of choice for those seeking to see these magnificent creatures. Many companies offer trips out to sea in order to view whales in their natural habitat with the Minke Whale being the most common type of whale seen around the Scottish coast.
Travelling in groups of two or four it is a wonderful sight to see these giants of the ocean close at hand as they dive in and out of the sea searching for fish or krill. The best time to spot the Minke Whale is between July and September. Further species of whale spotted in Scottish seas are Sperm Whales, Fin Whales and Bottle Nose Whales.
Another species that has been spotted more and more off the Scottish coast is the Orca or Killer whale. These whales live in large groups of around eight, travel very fast through the water and are black and grey with a white spot beside each eye. It isn't as easy to see the Killer Whales as the Minke but sightings around Scotland are becoming more frequent.
Basking sharks can be spotted off the coast of Scotland during the summer months with trips organised by companies throughout Scotland being a great way to be guaranteed to see them. They are one of the more peaceful types of sharks to swim or dive with, Basking Shark Scotland offer such trips out to sea. Such an experience is quiet the contrast to other dives such as those with the Great White sharks which for all but the most experienced of divers are best viewed by shark cage diving.
Basking sharks are huge creatures that reach lengths of up to twelve metres are a must see for anyone interested in the marine life of this region. The West Coast of Scotland seems to be the best place to view these ocean giants by either taking a boat trip with an expert or for those more adventurous among us by diving in the selected area where Basking Sharks swim.
Viewing dolphins in the wild is totally different to seeing them perform in captivity, while around the coast of Scotland Bottle Nosed Dolphins can be seen swimming and diving in total freedom. These dolphins may be spotted anywhere but the Moray Firth is home to a large colony therefore is the place to start along with Aberdeen harbour where dolphins can be seen up close in the water. Other species visitors may spot include the Common Dolphin and the White Beaked Dolphin that have been spotted in the sea between the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides.
Very similar in look to dolphins these creatures are often mistaken for them. Harbour Porpoises don't jump out of the water as dolphins do they arch their backs out as they swim along. These lovable creatures are not as sociable as the dolphin and will shy away, while many get caught in fishing nets and drown while looking for food. Porpoises only have a short life span too plus give birth to only one calf per year meaning numbers are dwindling. Mull Oban and Skye seem to be the best locations to view these creatures.