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Whale Watching Tours in Scotland

Updated on January 4, 2012
Minke Whale
Minke Whale | Source

Scotland may not seem like the premier destination for whale watching, but this island nation is host to a surprising variety of marine life. Guided boat tours highlight the beauty of Scotland's coasts, as well as the diverse wildlife that inhabits it.

Porpoise | Source



The minke whale is a frequent visitor to the shores of Scotland, and will often approach tour boats in friendly curiosity. These are the smallest of the baleen whales, weighing in at eight tons, although the term 'small' hardly seems appropriate. Minke whales are especially common in the summer months.


As its name would suggest, the common harbor porpoise is a regular companion to the tour boats. These playful mammals leap alongside fishermen and tourists all year 'round, and are about the size of a fully-grown man.

Basking Shark
Basking Shark | Source


Basking sharks appear along the coast of Scotland every summer, and these mammoth fish are a sight to behold. These sharks can dive over half a mile into the ocean, but surface in the summer and are easily visible due to their size. They feed on plankton and are harmless, gentle giants.


Many dolphin species are common in Scotland, including the common, bottlenose, and white-beaked dolphin. These are some of the most intelligent animals in the world, traveling in schools and playfully jumping alongside boats. Another member of the dolphin family is the Orca, or Killer Whale. A pod of them lives off the coast of Scotland, and longer tours may be lucky enough to spot these brilliant and efficient hunters in action.

Gannet | Source


Harbor and gray seals lounge on the beaches and rocky islets of Scotland, giving birth in the summer and fall months and occasionally slipping into the water to hunt.


Large birds of prey such as golden eagles, ospreys, falcons, and sea-eagles circle overhead, while puffins and guillemots fish for prey below. The birds of Scotland are beautiful and plentiful, and fierce hunters. Watch Gannets plunge into the water from 100 feet in the air, and peregrine falcons have a similar strategy to catch their fellow birds.

The Corryvreckan Gulf and Whirlpool
The Corryvreckan Gulf and Whirlpool | Source

Other Attractions

Besides the wildlife, Scotland offers gorgeous scenery to tourists. The green, rocky shores border one of the largest whirlpools in the world, the Corryvreckan. The noise of the whirlpool can be heard from over ten miles away, and the maelstrom generates waves up to 30 feet tall. Boat tours can take tourists safely near the whirlpool, for a sight that should never be missed.


There are many companies for hire as whale watching tour guides, and each has something unique to offer. Below are some of the largest companies.

Sealife Adventures

Sea Life Surveys

Whale Watching Trips

No visit to Scotland would be complete without taking a day to appreciate the spectacular ecosystem of this unique island nation. Be sure to make the trip during your next vacation, as the sight is well worth it!


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    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 5 years ago from Nottingham Uk

      I know Scotland very well and have visited many of the islands. Sometimes if you are lucky you can get boat trips out from the coast to see the basking sharks. Although it does depend on the time of year you visit. You should add a map of Scotland to your hub and if possible show the Gulf stream which is the reason many of these large sea creatures visit the west coast of the UK and Scotland. Voted up.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting hub. I would love to see orca in the wild, as although I have been lucky to see many whales and dolphins the killer whales elude me!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      Brian- I will certainly try to add those when I have the time!

      CMHypno- I was lucky enough to grow up on the Puget Sound, and I can assure you Orcas are one of the most magnificent things you'll ever see. Hope you get to see them some day!

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