Marine Biodiversity

The Highland Council proudly boasts 21% of the total coast for Scotland. It is incredibly diverse, not only possessing some of the most dramatic cliffs of the UK and stretches of golden sandy beaches that rival the tropics, but also wide firths, sea lochs and skerries. Its variety of form is reflected in its amazing diversity of life. At the same time the shore acts as a resource for industry, marine aquaculture, fisheries, tourism and energy generation.

The Highland Biodiversity Partnership Marine Project Group worked with the Highland Council Ranger Service, WREN, Highland Biodiversity Partners, Moray Firth Partnership, Museums, Chef's and Restaurants, Musicians, Artists, Storytellers, Marine Biologists, NTS, SNH and SEPA and Community Groups, to provide greater opportunities for local communities and visitors to get involved with activities to raise awareness of seashore wildlife through the Highland Seashore Project (2013 - 15).

The Highland Seashore Project

The Highland Seashore Project was funded by the Highland Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Crown Estate Marine Stewardship Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage. Launched in february 2013, the project ran to December 2015. It has worked with local communities and visitors to the Highlands. The project has run events and activities around the coast, to celebrate the heritage and nature of the shores. The project has worked in partnership with local community groups, by the provision of seashore field trips, skill development in surveying, workshops, roadshows and celebrations of the coast and shoreline.

After 2015 a collection of publications, a seashore surveyor network and training workshops will be left in place to encourage people to work together and share what they have learnt about the wild life of the coast, how that rich diversity can be preserved for future generations and how to become more involved in the surveying and recording of wildlife.

Free Seashore Life Identification and Survey Workshops

Over three years the project delierved 12 Seashore Life Identification and Survey  Workshops. The workshops were lead by a Local Seashore Expert with the support of Local Groups and their partners. The workshops were situated around the coast with at least one in each Biodiveristy Group Area.

The workshops were for the enthusiast and the novice in seashore life identification and developed skills in using books and equipment for species identification, how to record finds, how to submit records and the when, where and hows of surveying safely on the beach.

All workshop participants were given a free surveyor's pack, which included identification keys, survey sheets and recording and record submission guidelines. Participants also joined the Seashore Surveyors Network where they have access to a Seashore Expert to verify records and a contact list for help and advice. The Network members receive regular updates from the Highland Seashore Project, be able to take part in an annual training event for all network members and a newsletter and a facebook forum.

Get Surveying Now!

You do not need to be an expert to submit records about sealife found on the beach. Common species are under recorded, but vital indicators to the state of our shores. To enter a record you need to know when and where you identified your find, but any other information you can add will be useful. 

You can find out more about recording and submitting records here.


SubseaTV created a new short film for the Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project with original score by talented musician and composer,Mairearad Green.

Highland’s Hidden Homes aims to enthuse all age groups about the diversity of life in the shallow waters of the Highlands. It’s colourful and captivating with a vibrant musical score. The narrative was built around the theme of Scottish hospitality, exploring which sort of homes – and welcomes – we might find underwater. ______________________

Images by Andy, words by Jackie

With thanks to our partners: The Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project, Mairearad Green, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Highland Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund, and The Crown Estates.

Marine Project Group Partners

The Highland Biodiversity Marine Project Group has representatives from organisations that specialise in sealife conservation and coastal management, and representatives from services and groups where the coast plays a significant part in their work with the local community. In working together in the Highland Seashore Project, the joint expertise and coordination of effort will bring varied and accessible activities to the community and to visitors. By visiting their web sites, the work they do and the events and activities they have at the coast can be found.


Caithness Biodiversity Group
The Caithness Biodiversity Group comprises of representatives from local groups with an interest in the countryside, representatives of larger environmental organisations and private individuals with knowledge or enthusiasm to contribute to the Caithness environment.

Wild things!

Wild things! is a Scottish environmental education charity working in Moray, Grampian and the Highlands. Since 2003, Wild things! has enabled over 7000 children, young people and adults to learn from and be inspired by their local natural environment and the remote wilderness regions of Scotland.

Merkinch Local Nature Reserve
It has numerous areas of high wildlife value such as the Muirtown Pools, a diverse set of habitats around a number of pools, which are partially connected to the sea. Habitats include salt marsh, fresh water marsh with reed beds, bog, scrub and wooded embankments.

Lochaber Natural History Society
The scope of the Society’s interests includes all aspects of biodiversity – fauna, flora and habitats, from mountain top to seabed – as well as geology and other aspects of natural history, with a particular emphasis on conservation.

Marine Conservation Society
We champion the need for marine wildlife protection, sustainable fisheries and clean seas and beaches. This year's Big Beach Clean-up with M&S is taking place between 22nd-28th April.

Moray Firth Partnership
Helps people and organisations find new ways to communicate and work together to keep the Moray Firth's natural, economic and social resources in good heart, now and for future generations.

The Highland Council Ranger Service
Highland Council Countryside Rangers run many events which aim to help raise awareness and encourage appreciation of the scenery, wildlife and heritage of the Highlands. Events include guided walks, archaeology trails, story-telling, wildlife walks and family events for all interests, ages and levels of fitness.

Scottish Natural Heritage
Scottish Natural Heritage has a lead role in protecting Scotland's biodiversity through a variety of different ways like protecting special areas, species and habitats through legislation. SNH also gives guidance, advice, funding and publishes a number of helpful books and leaflets to help protect and manage the wider environment sustainably.

Skye and Lochalsh Environment Forum
Skye & Lochalsh Environment Forum (SLEF) is a partnership open to anyone with an interest in the natural and cultural habitats of the area.

The Sutherland Partnership Biodiversity Group
The group aim is to advance the cause of biodiversity in Sutherland by, facilitating community participation in environmental projects.

Wester Ross Environment Network
WREN is an independent voluntary organisation made up of local people with a personal or professional  interest in the environment.

Seashore Diary

From the end of January 2016 the Highland Seashore Biodiversity Project will have completed it's brief of three years of project activities. With close to 8,000 beneficiaries, 90 Surveyors and over 100 Project Partners we can only say many thanks for an amazing three years full of beautiful beaches, awesome talent and a lot of enthusiasm and passion for our Highland Coasts.

HOWEVER this is just the start of something bigger, in some small way the project has contributed to an unstoppable force of communities taking their shore and owning it, caring for it and helping it. WE all have that in common, we all want the best for the shore for our future generations and for the species that depend on them.

The project will continue in terms of individual and group projects. The web site pages will continue and be added to. Jack Johnston, our education placement, is currently producing Seashore Resources for education and outdoor pursuits.

The Seashore Survey pages are there and ready for all survey entries and verifying and submission of those vital records are encouraged.

The Highland Council Countryside Ranger Service have all new kit and equipment to help them support local community groups who want their own mini seashore Roadshows, activities and Beach Combing events.

Local projects will be available for future activities and training events, just go to CoCoast, Moray Firth Partnership, Living Seas Project and Coigach and Assynt Living Landscapes project to see what they can offer.

Wild Lochaber will continue with shore and sea themed events, to mention just one local initiative that has determined that Seashore will feature in their yearly programme.

Therefore please keep contributing and use the project facebook site to expand our seashore community

Highland Environment Forum

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