Scottish Wildlife Cruises

Guided Wildlife Cruises

In 2019 and 2020 we will have a wildlife guide onboard some cruises, at no extra cost to our passengers. 

Dr Peter Garson, BSc:

Dr Peter Garson is passionate about wildlife.  As a career conservation biologist at Newcastle University he has worked on many different species in a variety of environments. From studying endangered wildlife in the mountain ranges of the Himalayas to our threatened, native red squirrels in the Scottish Borders. For his Doctorate at Oxford University he studied the local wren population, which is very different to those found on St Kilda. These wrens are relatively common on St Kilda and, with Peter's help, should be relatively easy to find!


Dr Julie Ackroyd, FHEA

In her role as Bird Wise Ranger for the North Kent Marshes, Julie Ackroyd has been responsible for surveying the overwintering wildfowl on the Thames, Swale and Medway. She has also run coastal bird identification walks. If you have always wanted to start birding, or coastal species are new to you, then bring your binoculars and Julie will be delighted to help you identify what we see. 

This guided cruise around the sea lochs of the Isle of Skye and the Small Isles (Muck, Eigg, Rum and Canna) has to be one of the best ways to visit the Hebridean islands. Extraordinary Scottish wildlife is everywhere from minke and occasional killer and humpback whales, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks, otters to many species of rare sea birds, especially sea eagles. Throughout the cruise you will anchor in secluded and tranquil sea lochs and sail against a spectacular backdrop of dramatic, pristine island coastlines, high sea cliffs, wild mountains and forests. 


Cruise Dates

Wonderful adventure, out of this world!

Susan, October 2018
June 2020 Vessel Cruise Nights Spaces P/P Per Cruise
3rd June Seahorse II A Guided Wildlife Tour to St Kilda and the Outer Hebrides 11 nights 2 spaces £2,750 - £3,190 p/p Enquire

Above and Below the Waves

All our Scottish cruises throughout the islands and Sounds of the Outer Hebrides, Inner Hebrides and Argyll are designed with the region's spectacular wildlife in mind and our guests are always delighted at the wealth of wildlife they encounter on our cruises. All of our Scottish small boat cruises are wildlife cruises.  But please note that all our itineraries are example itineraries and are, of course, weather dependent. Occasionally we might choose an alternative route and night anchorage.

From the decks and from the tender we can see an incredible amount of rare bird and marine life. We can set lobster pots, explore the rock pools and even fish for our supper - all this makes for a perfect Scottish wildlife holiday.

Over 24 species of birds have been recorded in one day: from large rafts of Manx shearwaters and guillemots, to sightings of sea eagles.  We regularly see porpoises, dolphins and seals and occasionally orcas, minke whales and basking sharks. Anchored near the shore we spot wild mountain goats, roe deer and otters. In the tender we can carefully approach colonies of grey and common seals basking in the sun.

Recently we had a humpback whale breach in front of the boat  - that was a truly unforgettable example of wildlife Scotland.

On some of the cruises, guests are able to use the onboard microscopes to examine the spectacular underwater world of microscopic plankton that we have collected earlier on by dragging a very fine-meshed net from behind the boat. 

The Wonderful Invisible World of Plankton

Plankton means to "wander or drift" and Scotland's "ocean drifters" travel to the rhythms of the ocean currents and winds and live and die in an underwater environment that is only now just being understood. Microscopic plankton is made up of bacteria, viruses and plant (Phytoplankton) and animal (Zooplankton) single and multi cells in a complex interdependent mix. Their role is fundamental to the survival of the planet as the plankton provides us with oxygen and mops up the carbon dioxide. Their environment could change rapidly, because global warming will affect their habitat and their distribution. For many years aboard St Hilda we have been collecting and looking at Scottish plankton especially for any plankton species that are found only in the tropics. There is a direct route from the tropical seas by the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current to our cruising grounds on the west coast of Scotland as well as the Slope Current that travels up from the warmer waters of Spain along the continental shelf.

In 2016 a St Hilda's skipper published a paper on tropical plankton collected from the waters of Belize and the Gulf of Honduras. He used the same methods of towing a fine meshed net over the stern, as do the guests on St Hilda. To date the guests haven’t found any tropical species but it doesn’t mean they are not there. What they have discovered though is the wonderful underwater world of microscopic plankton – a true microcosm of life.

Dolphins Joining Guests for Part of Their Scottish Cruise

St Hilda Sea Adventures is very aware of the special nature of the environment in which it operates and makes every effort to run the boat in a way that protects the pristine places it visits.