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Wildlife watching

Wildlife watching

Scotland is a country surrounded by 11,800km of stunning coastline and beaches – in fact no one lives more than 65 kilometres 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.

Sadly on most beaches there will also be litter discarded by people, you can do your bit by taking your litter home or take part in our Clean Up Scotland campaign.

Below are some examples of the great wildlife you can find at our award beaches, share your finds @KSBScotland #BeachAwards

Spotting Marine Animals

Seals, common and grey, harbour porpoises, dolphins, otters, Minke whales, basking sharks can all be spotted from award winning beaches and their surroundings for many spotting marine mammals is the real highlight of a day at the beach.


Barnacles, mussels, shore crabs, hermit crabs, shrimps, prawns, starfish, sand hoppers, whelks, razor shells can all be found in fairly sheltered, rocky seashores, whether they are gravelly or sandy. The underside of boulders, piers and pontoons can provide rich pickings.


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 can all be spotted.

Avian Flu

Please help to reduce the spread of Avian flu on Scotland's East coast by following these steps:

  • do not touch any dead or sick birds, feathers, or surfaces contaminated with droppings.
  • keep dogs on a lead and away from any birds on the shore.

Please visit the Scottish Government website here for more information.

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