Orkney's abundant sealife makes the islands a wildlife lover's paradise.
Porpoises, dolphins and whales are regularly seen around the coast, with basking shark sightings on the increase too.
Seals, or selkies as they're known locally, are everywhere and you're guaranteed to see some lounging on skerries at low tide or swimming near the shore. Selkies often feature in Orkney folk tales, which regularly involve them shedding their skins and taking human form.
On the shore, exploring the rockpools is an exciting activity for all ages - you'll find mussels, crabs, sea urchins, anenomes and starfish in the clear water, and limpets and barnacles clinging to the rocks.
Explore our rich sealife within each section below.
Harbour porpoise in Orkney watersHarbour porpoises are frequently seen all year round the coast of Orkney. This is the smallest cetacean in Orkney waters, measuring up to 1.8m in length. It is shy of...More
Playful dolphins are a popular attraction and several species can be spotted passing through Orkney in the summer months. These include Risso’s dolphin, the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, white-beake...More
There is always great excitement in Orkney when a pod of killer whales or orcas is spotted. This happens several times most years - in fact 90 per cent of sightings of orca in the UK are off Orkney an...More
Orkney is an internationally important breeding site for two species of seals – the grey and the common seal. These charismatic creatures are both friendly and inquisitive, but it's best to steer cl...More
A basking shark in Orkney watersDon’t rush out of the water or off the beach if you see a gigantic shark moving slowly near the coast with its giant mouth open. It is most likely a basking shark wh...More