Grey seal bull resting in the surf, Tentsmuir NNR, Fife ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.nature.scot

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, including the bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise and minke whale.

Both harbour (common) and grey seals are present around Scotland’s coast in internationally important numbers. The vast majority of the harbour and grey seals found in UK waters live off Scotland. 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. The vast majority of harbour and grey seals found in UK waters live off Scotland.