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  • Grey seal, Orkney - image by Adam Hough

Sea Life

Orkney is one of the best places in Britain to go seal-watching. In fact it is of significant international importance as a breeding ground for two species - the grey and common seal. Astonishingly, around 15% of the world's seal population make Orkney their home.

Along with the adorable puffins, Orkney's seals are a firm favourite with visitors and can always be relied upon to put on a show! They are naturally inquisitive creatures and can be spotted along the coastline, bobbing about in the shallows or lounging around on the skerries when the tide is out.

There are many good sites to see the seals in Orkney, or selkies as they are known by locals. The Brough of Birsay is popular and the islands of South Ronaldsay, Rousay and the outer isles attract seals in good numbers.

Seal watching is recommended in the autumn months when the pups arrive. From October to December grey seals give birth and the pups can be spotted by their mothers' side for 21 days on land. Common seals (incidentally, they are less common than their grey cousins) pup around the same time and you'll see them basking with their new arrivals in haul-out sites on the shores.

Keep your eyes peeled and you might also see whales (Orca are becoming more regular visitors to our shores), porpoises and dolphins. Orkney is also a great place to see otters in the wild, but you’ll have to be patient and know where to look.