Whale Watching Tours in Scotland
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!