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Wildlife on the Isles of Scilly

wildlife on the isles of scilly

 This post is an introduction to the wildlife on the Isles of Scilly. Beneath the surface lies a thriving ecosystem teeming with unique wildlife, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts. The Isles of Scilly boasts a charm that transcends its idyllic beaches and turquoise waters.

Some information about the wildlife on the Isles of Scilly

Here are some of the animals you can find on the Isles of Scilly:

A Symphony of Wings: Birdwatching Paradise on the Isles of Scilly


With over 450 species recorded, the islands boast a vibrant year-round spectacle, attracting enthusiasts from all corners of the globe.

Spring paints the skies with the arrival of the charismatic puffin. Their brightly coloured beaks and comical waddling gait make them a delightful addition to the rugged cliffs. Annet and the Western Rocks become hotspots for these playful birds, where you can witness their breeding colonies and hear their distinctive calls.

Summer brings a majestic transformation with the arrival of the Manx shearwater. These ethereal birds, with their streamlined bodies and impressive wingspans exceeding a meter, glide effortlessly across the waves. Watching them gracefully dance on the ocean currents is a mesmerizing display of avian agility.

But the avian wonders don’t stop there. The islands are a stage for a diverse cast of seabirds. Witness the impressive wingspan of gannets as they plummet into the water in a spectacular display of hunting prowess. Observe the sleek forms of cormorants and shags perched on rocky outcrops, their watchful eyes scanning the waters for prey. Kittiwakes,razorbills, and guillemots also add to the symphony of life, their calls echoing across the islands.

Birdwatching on the Isles of Scilly isn’t just about the spectacle; it’s about witnessing the delicate balance of the ecosystem. These feathered residents play a vital role in the health of the islands, and their presence is a testament to the thriving wildlife haven that Scilly has become.

The Secret Nature of the Isles of Scilly” by Andrew Cooper explores the unique wildlife and natural beauty of this archipelago. Illustrated with stunning photographs, the book delves into the ecological wonders and conservation efforts, offering an insightful guide to the flora and fauna that make these islands special.

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nature of the isles of scilly

The Enigmatic Manx Shearwater: Dancing Ghosts of the Isles of Scilly

manx shearwater

The Manx shearwater, a master of the open ocean, graces the skies of the Isles of Scilly with its ethereal presence. These medium-sized seabirds boast streamlined bodies built for effortless gliding, their wingspans exceeding a meter. Unlike many seabirds, they lack the vibrant plumage, appearing almost ghost-like with their dark brown upperparts and white underbellies.

Manx shearwaters are truly birds of the sea. They spend most of their lives soaring above the waves, rarely coming to land except to breed. During the summer months, they transform the Isles of Scilly into a bustling nighttime colony,returning to hidden burrows in the cliffs after sunset. Their haunting calls fill the air as they navigate by smell and sound in the darkness.

These remarkable birds are champions of long-distance travel. They undertake epic migrations, crossing vast stretches of the Atlantic Ocean to winter in South American waters. Their remarkable navigational skills and tireless flight make them true marvels of the avian world.

Observing Manx shearwaters gliding effortlessly on the currents, their forms blending with the sea below, is a mesmerizing experience. It’s a reminder of the wonders that exist just beyond our shores, a testament to the beauty and resilience of nature.

Lords of the Deep: Encountering Marine Mammals on the Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly, holds a secret beneath its turquoise waters. Here, a vibrant world unfolds, teeming with marine mammals that add another layer of wonder to this wildlife paradise. From the playful antics of seals to the awe-inspiring presence of whales, encountering these magnificent creatures is an unforgettable experience for any visitor.

Grey Seals: Guardians of the Shores

grey seal

Undoubtedly the stars of the show are the grey seals, some of the rarest in the world. These charismatic creatures bask on the rocky shores, their sleek bodies glistening in the sunlight. Their inquisitive eyes peer out at the world, offering a glimpse into their intelligence and curiosity. Boat trips provide the perfect opportunity to witness these marine mammals up close. Watch as they gracefully glide through the water, propelled by their powerful flippers, or marvel at their playful interactions, particularly during the breeding season.

Pups born in the spring add another layer of charm. Their soft, downy fur and curious nature are a delight to observe.However, it’s crucial to maintain a respectful distance to avoid disturbing these vulnerable youngsters. The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust plays a vital role in monitoring and protecting these precious animals, ensuring their continued presence on the islands.

Dolphins: Dancing on the Waves


While less frequent visitors than seals, dolphins bring a touch of magic to the waters around Scilly. Common dolphins are the most likely species you’ll encounter, their sleek bodies leaping and twisting in playful displays. Spotting a pod of dolphins gracefully gliding alongside your boat is an experience that will stay with you long after your visit.

Giants of the Deep: Whales and Other Rarities

For the truly fortunate, a glimpse of a majestic whale might be possible. Humpback and fin whales are occasionally spotted venturing into the deeper waters surrounding the islands. Their immense size and graceful movements are a humbling reminder of the vastness and power of the ocean. While sightings of these giants are not guaranteed, the possibility adds an extra layer of excitement to any wildlife watching trip.

Beyond the Big Names: A Rich Marine Ecosystem

The marine mammal story on the Isles of Scilly extends beyond the stars. Harbor porpoises, smaller relatives of dolphins,can be seen surfacing and breathing near the shore. Keep your eyes peeled for their distinctive rounded dorsal fins breaking the water’s surface. Basking sharks, the second largest fish species in the world, occasionally visit the nutrient-rich waters around the islands. While these gentle giants pose no threat to humans, encountering one is a truly awe-inspiring experience.

Responsible Wildlife Watching

For a truly rewarding experience, it’s crucial to practice responsible wildlife watching. Choose boat trips operated by reputable companies that prioritize the well-being of the animals. Maintain a safe distance from seals and other marine mammals, and avoid disturbing their natural behavior. By being a responsible visitor, you can help ensure the survival of these magnificent creatures for generations to come.

The Isles of Scilly offer a unique opportunity to witness marine mammals in their natural habitat. From the playful antics of seals to the awe-inspiring presence of whales, encountering these incredible creatures is an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the wonders of the ocean. Remember, responsible tourism and respect for wildlife are paramount in ensuring the continued health of this precious ecosystem.

A Diver’s Paradise: Unveiling the Fish of the Isles of Scilly

snorkel with seals

The Isles of Scilly, boasts more than just stunning beaches and turquoise waters. Beneath the surface lies a vibrant underwater world teeming with an incredible diversity of fish. From the colourful inhabitants of shallow reefs to the elusive deep-sea dwellers, the Scillies offer a haven for marine life, making them a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers.

A Feast for the Eyes: Colorful Reef Residents

Venture into the clear waters, and a dazzling array of fish awaits. Wrasse, with their vibrant scales in shades of red, green,and blue, flit amongst the rocks. Tompot blennies, sporting comical expressions, peep out from crevices. Schools of silvery sand eels shimmer in the sunlight, while the elegant long-snouted seahorse camouflages itself against seaweed.

Predators of the Deep: Masters of Camouflage

For the more adventurous divers, venturing deeper reveals a world of camouflage and stealth. Pollock, the silver torpedoes of the sea, lie in wait for unsuspecting prey. John Dory, with its flattened body and distinctive eye stalks, blends seamlessly with the seabed. Conger eels, serpentine predators, slither through the rocky crevices, adding an air of mystery to the underwater world.

Unique Encounters: Treasures of the Scillies

giant goby

The Scillies hold a special place for fish enthusiasts due to the presence of rare and endangered species. The critically endangered giant goby, found only in a handful of locations worldwide, calls the Scillies home. This fascinating fish, with its oversized head and territorial behavior, is a true gem for divers to encounter.

Beyond the Reefs: Pelagic Prowlers

The open waters around the islands are not devoid of life either. Mackerel, with their iridescent bodies, flash like silver coins in the sunlight as they school through the currents. Bass, prized by anglers, lurk near rocky outcrops, waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey. And for the truly lucky, a glimpse of a majestic blue shark or a playful dolphin might be possible, adding another layer of excitement to the underwater experience.

Sustainable Seafood: A Delicate Balance

The fish populations of the Scillies play a vital role in the local ecosystem and economy. Responsible fishing practices are crucial to maintain this delicate balance. Choosing local, sustainable seafood ensures the health of the marine environment for future generations.

A World of Wonder: Exploring the Depths

Whether you’re a seasoned scuba diver or a curious snorkeler, the Isles of Scilly offer a captivating underwater world to explore. With its diverse range of fish, from the colourful reef dwellers to the elusive deep-sea predators, the Scillies are a true haven for marine life. By respecting the delicate balance of the ecosystem, visitors can ensure that this underwater paradise continues to thrive.

The Isles of Scilly is a magnificent part of the country, so difference from anywhere else in Devon and Cornwall. Find out more abou the amazing beaches and other things do do in the Isles of Scilly.

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