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.


Also known as a Harbour Seal, the Common seal 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. 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 and their tails are visible when they dive which helps distinguish them from seals at a distance.

Common Dolphins

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. Other occasional visitors to the Hebridean coastal waters include Risso’s dolphins and Bottlenose dolphins.

Minke Whale

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.

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 narrowed pointed noses and a huge mouth. They live on krill 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.


Red Deer

Red Deer can be seen throughout these islands and are the larger of Scotlands two native breeds.

Rabbits / Hares

Rabbits are a common sight in the Hebrides and a walk along the machair will reveal many burrows. They are often seen on the machair land and along the cliff tops.


Mink were introduced to Uist and Benbecula from the mainland (originally from America). There are concerns about the mink population due to the threats they pose to ground nesting birds.



Gannets are large black and white birds with yellow heads and a wingspan of up to 2 metres. They are usually seen diving into the sea at great speed and from high up to catch fish.


Oystercatchers are black and white birds with bright orange beaks. They can be seen on the beach, among the rocks or flying. They have a distinctive call.


Puffins are seasonal birds and are on the Islands during Spring. Their brightly coloured beaks make them easy to spot and the best place to see them is from a boat.


The buzzard is one of the more common birds of prey and their call sound like the mewing of a cat. They fly with their tail feathers “fanned” and can be identified by the patches of white under the wings.

Golden Eagle

The Golden eagle is the second largest bird in the UK and is easily identified by the huge, broad wings. Golden brown in colour, they have a slow wing beat and are often seen soaring.

White Tailed Sea Eagle

The White-tailed eagle is a globally endangered species with most of the breeding pairs in the UK being found in the Hebrides. It has a brown body with a pale head and white tail. Often described as looking like a “flying barn door” this is the largest bird species in the UK.


Corncrakes are an endangered species and are summer visitors to the UK. Related to moorhens and coots, they are secretive birds and spend their time hiding in the vegetation. Their call is loud and rasping.

Island of Benbecula, HS7 5PS
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North Uist, HS6 5AY
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