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New Seabird Seafari Boat Trips to the Isle of May

A partnership of two Wild Scotland members, Scottish Seabird Centre and Sea.fari Adventures (Forth) to run trips from North Berwick to the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth is up and running. Successfully trialled earlier this year the new trips will be sailing regularly, throughout the summer, from North Berwick.

The Seabird Centre has been granted a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to operate public trips to the island from North Berwick. While public trips have been running from Anstruther on the Fife coast to the island with Wild Scotland member, the May Princess, for many years, this new service provides the opportunity for East Lothian visitors and residents to easily visit this famous island.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, comments, “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, helping to increase awareness and appreciation of the amazing wildlife on our doorstep”.

Iain Rennick, Area Manager for SNH, said, “We’re pleased that this new service will allow more people to visit the Isle of May. It’s such a magical place: right now, visitors are likely to see a huge variety of nesting seabirds, spot some seals and other wildlife, as well as find out about the fascinating history of smugglers, monks and ship wrecks on the island.”

The Isle of May is internationally famous for its amazing wildlife. A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Nature Reserve (NNR), the island is owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and known as the “Jewel of the Forth”.

Each year, a quarter of a million seabirds, including thousands of puffins, visit the island to breed. The surrounding waters are a Special Area for Conservation (SAC), because of the island’s grey seals (the largest colony on the East Coast of Britain) and its reef. There are also several sightings of bottlenose dolphins, porpoises and minke whales each year, and more occasionally humpback, sperm and fin whales.

The island has a long history, recorded as far back as the foundation of its priory in the mid-twelfth century. In its colourful past are associations with its chapel, lighthouses, medieval village, military (during the two world wars) and its significance as a site for bird and seal research.

The new half day trip, by fast rigid inflatable boat, includes at least two hours landing on the Isle of May, giving passengers the opportunity to enjoy this amazing island. Full details at www.seabird.org. Due to popular demand, advance booking is essential.

As members of Wild Scotland and WiSE, the Scottish Seabird Centre follows a careful wildlife watching code that allows a wonderful experience for visitors, without causing disturbance to the animals. Accompanied by an experienced wildlife guide, the trips leave from North Berwick harbour and sail to the Isle of May, via the Bass Rock, described “as one of the wildlife wonders of the world”, the largest single island gannet colony in the world.

Income from the Seabird Seafari trips helps to support the Centre’s conservation and education work (the Seabird Centre is a registered environmental charity).

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