Coastal landscape

NatureScot and the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020/21

Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters took place in 2020 and was extended into 2021 as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on many activities. Despite these challenges the themed year led by VisitScotland was able to inspire both visitors and locals alike to explore and experience our unrivalled shores and waterways. At NatureScot we led a programme of activities to celebrate the year and help connect more people with our coasts and waters. Explore our projects below.

Message in a Bottle / Brath sa Bhuideal

Message in a Bottle is a musical composition developed by acclaimed traditional musician Ingrid Henderson in collaboration with NatureScot for the Year of Coast and Waters. The piece explores the incredible journeys of marine wildlife and seabirds, our dependence on the seas and the exchanges of language and culture around our coast, while highlighting the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans. Using a combination of music, song, Gaelic language, film and animation, Ingrid’s creative talent fuses with NatureScot’s wealth of scientific knowledge and research to celebrate Scotland’s unique marine environment.

The commission premiered at Celtic Connections in 2020 and, whilst the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed plans for a summer tour, Ingrid joined NatureScot’s Head of Marine Ecosystems in July 2020 for an online performance and discussion about the inspiration behind her work.

Message in a Bottle has now been released as an album and a Scottish tour is set for 2022. Watch this space for more information on dates.

Message in a Bottle animation

Animation by Cat Bruce

An Seòladair aig Rubha Dà Chuain

The Sailor at the point of two oceans

Lockdown Concert 2020

We hosted a Message in a Bottle, Facebook Live event, as a virtual taster of music, chat, film and animation.

In Tune with Nature

NatureScot and Fèis Rois partnered up on a competition to inspire people to connect with nature through music for the Year of Coasts and Waters. Entrants aged 16 and over were invited to compose a piece of music inspired by one of 10 National Nature Reserves across Scotland. The competition was judged by a panel of well-known faces from the Scottish music industry, including Julie Fowlis; Vic Galloway; Gill Maxwell; and Karine Polwart.

Winners received a £500 cash prize along with the opportunity to collaborate with a professional filmmaker to make a film on the National Nature Reserve which inspired their music. These films are all now complete and ready for you to enjoy below!


Ross Hull

Isle of May

Catriona Price

Beinn Eighe

Marie Fielding


Malin Lewis

Loch Leven

Beth Malcolm


Lucie Treacher


Roo Geddes and Neil Sutcliffe


Sarah MacNeil

Creag Meagaidh

Charlie Grey


Barney Bridges


Iona Lane


James Lindsay

Plunge In! Coasts and Waters Community Fund

The Plunge In! Fund supported 25 new community projects reflecting the amazing reach and diversity of our shorelines and waterways. The projects were chosen for their ability to engage and connect more people with our seas, coasts, lochs, rivers, streams and wetlands, and their unique wildlife. The fund aims to leave a legacy from the Year of Coasts and Waters, for example through improved skills and knowledge or the creation of a community resource. The fund is now closed but you can explore the successful projects in our storymap below.

Coasts and Waters Community Fund Story Map

NatureScot Year of Coasts and Waters Calendar 2021

We appealed to the nation for their photos and memories of Scotland's rivers, coasts, seas, lochs and canals, to feature in our calendar marking the themed year.

With over 700 entries - from underwater wildlife encounters to journeys through scenic waterscapes, spanning the length and breadth of Scotland - deciding on the final 13 was incredibly difficult. The final calendar images highlight the natural wonder, biodiversity and beauty of Scotland's coasts and waters.

Pair of Urchins

A pair of urchins sitting on a rocky reef, Lerwick, Shetland.

Billy Arthur

Kenmore sunset

Kenmore sunset

Helen Ostrycharz

St Monans

Gloomy clouds looming behind St Monans.

Zoe Kirkbride

Southannan Falls

Southannan Waterfall, Fairlie

Amanda Smith

Atlantic bobtail squid

Atlantic bobtail squid digging into the sediment, Loch Long.

Jason Guthrie

Rannoch Moor

Landscape of Rannoch Moor.

Kris Fraser

Aurora pillars

Aurora pills weaving across the sky, Nairn Harbour.

Joss Ward

Loch Lomond

View across Loch Lomond towards Inveruglas.

Sam Smith

Otter cub

Otter club eating crabs, Argyll.

David Gibbon

Bass Rock

Brooding gannet and chick preening, Bass Rock.

Danni Thompson

Yarrell's blenny

Fish peering out of its refuge, Yarrell's blenny in Loch Hourn.

Paul Kay

Seals in the surge

Grey seals in the underwater surge, Loch Eriboll.

Kirsty Andrews

Dawn paddle

Castle Semple Dawn Paddle.

Gary Fawcett