Local Wildlife - Sea

The Hebrides are renowned for their rich diversity of sealife and the following are some of the species to look out for on your trip.

Seals - Common

Also known as a Harbour Seal, this is the smaller of the 2 species of seals found in the Outer Hebrides. They are often seen swimming and they are stout but streamlined in shape. They can reach around 1.8metres in length and 130kg in weight.

Seals - Grey

The grey seal has a slimmer hind end than the common seal. These seals have a long face with large eyes. They are often seen basking on rocks, the shore or swimming in the sea.


Otters are usually brown and have a thick layer of fur to keep them warm in the water. They have webbed feet to help them swim and when seen in the water, they often produce a distinctive “V” shaped wake.


Keep a look out from the ferry, as the Little Minch and the Sea of the Hebrides are the best places to see these mammals.

Dolphins - Bottlenose

Bottlenose dolphins are large measuring up to 3.8 metres long. They are grey in colour with paler sides and a white underside. They are often seen throughout the Hebrides and are commonly found in large groups.

Dolphins - Common

Common dolphins are summer visitors to the Hebrides and are distinctive with a cream stripe down each side. They have grey backs and measure between 1.7 – 2.7 metres in length.

Dolphins - Risso’s

Only occasionally seen in coastal areas, the Risso’s dolphin has a stocky body with a curved dorsal fin and flat face. They measure between 2.6 and 3.8 metres in length.

Whales - Minke

The Minke whale is one of the smallest whales found in the UK at 7 – 10 metres in length. They are slender and streamlined and are easily recognised by the dorsal fin which is small and curved. They have a dark back with a lighter underside. They can be seen in the Hebrides during the summer.

Whales - Orca (Killer Whale)

Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family and are very distinctive. They measure between 5.5 and 9.5 metres in length and their characteristic black and white markings coupled with the large size of the dorsal fin makes them easy to identify.

Harbour porpoise

The Harbour porpoise is the smallest species found in the Hebrides at only 1.4 – 1.7 metres in length. They have a stocky body and no pronounced beak. They are usually seen rolling with the back and fin visible.

Basking Shark

The basking shark is the second biggest fish in the world at 11 metres long. They have narrow pointed noses and a huge mouth. They live on crill and swim along with their mouths open to scoop up the plankton. They are dark in colour and have a large, angular fin on their back.