Marine mammals

Scotland is one of the best places in Europe to see marine mammals – whales and dolphins included.

The waters around Scotland are among the finest in Europe for seeing dolphins, whales and porpoises, collectively known as cetaceans. More than 20 cetacean species can be seen in Scottish waters. Seven of these are relatively common: bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise, minke whale, white-beaked dolphin, Risso's dolphin, common dolphin and killer whale.

Both harbour seals and grey seals are present around Scotland’s coast in internationally important numbers. The vast majority of the harbour and grey seals found in the UK live in Scottish waters. About a third of all grey seals in the world breed at colonies in Scotland, and about 30% of European harbour seals are found in the UK. 

Find out more

The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code
Marine Natura sites
State of Nature Scotland Report 2019
Read our guidance for planners and developers on protected animals.

Last updated: