Your charity for Scotland’s environment


Scotland is a country surrounded by 10,000km of stunning coastline and beaches – in fact no one lives more than 80 miles from the shore.   Wildlife habitats around our coast include sandy beaches, cliffs, rocky shores, dynamic dune systems and muddy estuaries.

Beaches and coastal paths are fantastic places for wildlife watching, particularly for watching sea birds, mammals, and invertebrates - including crabs and mussels.

Twice a day the tides deposit seaweed, shells, driftwood and the occasional jellyfish along the high tide line of our beaches. These strandlines are great for beachcombing.  On rocky shores, as the tide goes out, rockpools are revealed providing an insight into the hidden world of wildlife beneath the water. 

In Scotland we are also extremely lucky to be able to see marine mammals from our shores.  Along parts of the coast, seals, dolphins and even whales can be seen.  You just have to keep your eyes open.

Below are examples of some of the types of wildlife you can find at the beach.

Birds: Herring gulls, common terns, oystercatchers, gannets, puffins, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes and on muddy and sandy shores wading birds such as dunlins, sanderlings, redshanks, curlews and godwits.

Mammals and fish: Common and grey seals, harbour porpoises, dolphins, otters, Minke whales, basking sharks.

Invertebrates: Barnacles, mussels, shore crabs, hermit crabs, shrimps, prawns, starfish, sand hoppers, whelks, razor shells.  Why not take part in the great Scottish Seashell Survey this summer with Buglife, or the Jellyfish Survey with the Marine Conservation Society?

You might find some useful information on the MCS Wildlife Protection website.

Sadly on most beaches there will also be litter discarded by people.  We are trying to address this through our Clean Up Scotland campaign.