Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards Finalists – Two Categories 17.07.2023

We are absolutely delighted and excited to share that we have been shortlisted in this years Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards.  Not just in one, but in two categories along with other businesses as detailed below.  Receiving this fantastic news comes on the back of us receiving our Visit Scotland 5-Star distinction, an award we have worked very hard to achieve following recommendations on our last visit when awarded 4-Stars.  This year so far we have also been awarded ‘TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice 2023′ as well as ‘Green Tourism Silver’.  Fantastic year so far for accolades and praised by our local Visit Scotland representative Steve Mathieson who quoted the following during an interview with BBC Radio Shetland.

“We know that we have absolutely top class attractions, top class trips and tours, this is a great accolade for Seabirds-and-Seals who have also just received 5-Star grading from Visit Scotland, which is the the top grading any business can achieve so well done to them.  I know Seabirds-and-Seals are nominated in two categories which is wonderful.  We really are amongst there with the very best of businesses in the Highlands and Islands and Scotland. We truly are in good health in terms of the quality of the businesses we have in the tourism sector in Shetland”.


Drax – Cruachan The Hollow Mountain
Seabirds-and-Seals – The Original Noss Boat Tours
The Highlanders Museum


Seabirds-and-Seals – The Original Noss Boat Tours

Sponsored once again by Royal Bank of Scotland, the Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards will culminate in a fabulous gala dinner and ceremony at the Macdonald Drumossie Hotel, Inverness on Friday, November 10.  We wish all other finalists the very best of luck and look forward to joining you at the MacDonald Drumossie Hotel in November.  

The event will host industry leaders, sponsors, inspiring speakers, entertainment, and most importantly, all of those shortlisted for an award for a spectacular evening of celebration, recognition and pride.

Drumossie general manager, Kenny McMillan says that he is looking forward to welcoming shortlistees, their colleagues and sponsors to the awards gala: “The Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards are the highlight of the tourism and hospitality season in the region.

“It gives all of us who work in the industry the opportunity to celebrate the talent, dedication and often the innovation of the people who not only make holidays to our beautiful part of Scotland unforgettable but contribute to a vital sector in the Highland economy providing rewarding and exciting career opportunities.”

HITA vice chair and lead judge for 2023, Lorna Maclennan, added: “This year has seen another fantastic number of entries from businesses and individuals right across the Highlands, islands and Moray. The range and calibre of submissions has been impressive and made our work as judges all the harder in deciding our shortlist!

“A big thank you goes to all of our judges for giving up their time away from their own businesses to read through all the entries and choose this year’s shortlistees. We also thank everyone who took the time and effort to submit their applications. The awards will be a wonderful evening and we look forward to celebrating with you on the night.”

As well as celebrating local businesses, the awards are also an excellent way for the business community to show its support through sponsorship.

Ryan Fraser, director of commercial banking from awards sponsor, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “At Royal Bank of Scotland we want to champion potential, helping people, families and businesses to thrive. The Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards celebrate those organisations, individuals and businesses who share similar values as well as demonstrating excellence and innovation in wanting to help the industry succeed and prepare for a more sustainable future.”

The 2023 awards welcomed entries from businesses and individuals in all regions of the Highlands and Islands; from Argyll in the west, to Moray in the east, and Orkney and Shetland in the north.



Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Scottish Tourist Board 5-Star Tour Accolade ***** 13.07.2023

We are absolutely delighted to share our wonderful news and just on the back of receiving TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice award yet again this year.

A few weeks back we had our unannounced quality assurance visit from Visit Scotland.  Always nerve wracking when they announce at the end of the tour who they are, but the feedback was absolutely amazing.

We have received the delightful news that we have been awarded 5 Gold Stars from Visit Scotland – thank you so much and to everyone who supports us.  

Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award 2023 – 21.06.2023


Every year since taking over the business, we have been awarded this fantastic accolade from TripAdvisor.  We are delighted to be leading the way as a top visitor attraction in Shetland – listed number one boat tour on TripAdvisor for our area.  Thank you so much to everyone has supported us to make this possible, we value our customer feedback and experience.

Travelers’ Choice, formerly Certificate Of Excellence, recognizes businesses that earn consistently great reviews.  Travelers’ Choice award-winners are among the top 10% of listings on TripAdvisor.  TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice honors select accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently demonstrate a commitment to hospitality excellence.

Once again – a massive thank you to all of you – our lovely passengers and our brilliant team.  

Your constant support, love and constructive feedback has been instrumental in our journey and helped us achive this award.

Thank you from The NO.1 Noss Boat as ranked on TripAdvisor.  

Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Not All Heroes Wear Capes – 21.04.2023

Not all heroes wear capes – some like skipper Brian of The Noss Boat ‘Seabird’ wear blue rubber gloves.  On a cruise to Noss on Friday 21st April we discovered a Gannet entangled in a discarded fishing rope.  Fortunately, seas were calm enough allowing Brian to rescue the bird.  The rope was cut free and discarded responsibly ashore and the bird flew away with no injuries.  Well done that man!

Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Seabirds-and-Seals – The No.1 Original Noss Boat Tours – Delighted To Achieve Silver Award On Green Journey (21.03.2023)

We are very proud to have received a Green Tourism Silver grading award.  The awards are acknowledged worldwide as an indicator of good environmentally-friendly-practice, and are a great way of progressing on a green journey as well as acting as a hallmark of ‘Green Quality’, attracting custom from increasing numbers of eco-minded visitors.  Having accreditation and our good green practices verified by the Green Tourism team, shows our customers how committed we are in caring for our environment.

brian and marie


The quoted text to follow in bold is feedback we received from Green Tourism upon presentation of our award.

“Seabirds-and Seals have done an excellent job in achieving the Green Tourism Silver award following on from their first GreenCheck Assessment. They have displayed an excellent understanding of sustainability and awareness of opportunities and challenges associated with running a responsible business. They have scored well across the board but have excelled in the Awareness, Community, Experience, Destination, and Communication goals. The team at Seabirds-and-Seals have shown a commitment to continual improvement, a willingness to implement change where required and dedication in the pursuit of sustainable business practices”

Green Tourism assessed Seabirds-and-Seals against 15 sustainability criteria grouped under the pillars of People, Places and Planet. These consider the social, economic and environmental actions the business has undertaken, providing a holistic assessment of sustainability performance.

A Green Tourism Award means that a business works responsibly, ethically and sustainably, contributes to their community, is reducing their impact on the environment and aims to be accessible and inclusive to all visitors and staff.  We have been working hard towards these goals, and hope in time to achieve ‘Gold’ as we continue on our green journey.

The Green Tourism scheme was established in 1997 and has been caring for people, places and the planet for more than 20 years. In Scotland the scheme was developed through a partnership between VisitScotland and Green Business UK. The scheme is a well-recognised award as well as being an important part of Scotland’s future towards a sustainable tourism destination. There are 2,300 members in the UK and Ireland and 850+ of these are in Scotland. 

You can find out more about the Green Tourism Certification on VisitScotland’s website here

Green Tourism have been so helpful throughout and at our 1st assessment they highlighted our areas of sustainability strength, those were as follows.  

  • Awareness – Excellent knowledge and awareness of all aspects of sustainability on show throughout.
  • Community – Strong commitment to supporting vibrant local communities.
  • Experiences – Good knowledge of local area and wildlife and how to enjoy it in a sustainable and responsible way.
  • Destination – Excellent promotion of the heritage, events, and local projects in the destination area and how to enjoy it in a sustainable manner.
  • Communication- Excellent example of how to put across your green story, initiatives, and projects that you have undertaken to your customers, suppliers, and the wider world.

Ever since the early days of Seabirds-and-Seals (The Noss Boat), we have been committed to operating our tours in a responsible manner.  Our business is wildlife tourism and run by passionate nature-lovers for those with an appreciation of the natural world.  We have a passion for conservation and the need to ensure the long-term protection of species and habitats. 

WiSe Scheme Accreditation
Delighted as the NO.1 Noss Boat to receive WiSe Scheme Accreditation.


We advocate working with local communities and leaving a positive impact on the destinations we visit and this has always been a fundamental part of our business. 

One example of our close connection with local communities is our yearly collaboration with Shetland Carers, whereby we donate a few tours throughout our busy season which runs from April to October to their ‘Respitality Scheme’.  Our donations have been greatly appreciated by ‘Shetland Carers’ – allowing a carer and companion to take a break from their caring routine which can certainly make a difference on how they feel.  Many have often told us this has been the best break offered to them in the scheme as they love getting out in the water and connecting with nature.   We work closely with the local community in many other aspects but just wanted to share this particular one for now.  First photo shared below shows a family of 4 who joined up to the scheme last year, enjoying the refreshments stop which is offered on all our tours and all fairtrade products used.  The second photo shows Amanda of Shetland Carers presenting us with our certificate of thanks for signing up to their fantastic scheme, more than welcome.  Before the family shown in photo below disembarked, each child was delighted to receive a FREE Eco-Friendly pack, this is given to all young sailors that join our tours.  

Our team are committed to reducing our impact on the planet and in times of covid we were faced with many challenges, but we faced the storm and with the restriction in 2020 stopping us from getting out on the water, it gave us time to reflect on our business voyage and our future goals.  We have our own branding which was first started by Dr Jonathan Wills who established the business back in 1992.  We took the time during covid to make further developments by opening our online shop to let the world see our Eco-Friendly branded merchandise as well as other products which make fabulous gift ideas.  Below is just one example but you can find more by visiting our online shop here .   

When covid restrictions eased in 2021 to allow us to operate again with the Scottish Government procedures in place, we went further and put other plans in place to move us in the right direction towards our Green Journey and always looking to improve our sustainable practices.  

This year our business celebrates 31 years, a business our Skipper Brian who is also combined guide, has been actively involved in from the beginning and it continues to go from strength to strength, thank you Green Tourism for giving us this opportunity and a fabulous start to our 2023 Noss Boat Tours season. 

S-A-S Viewing Platform - Malcolm Younger

We will continue to keep updating our Green Tourism assessment as we progress through our action plans we have in place through Green Tourism. We will also continue to keep updating our website blog which we will share with the team at ‘Green Tourism.  We are always looking at ways to improve our commitment to caring for our environment and for our customers/staff.  

We look forward to welcoming you onboard The Noss Boat ‘Seabird’.

Best Wishes
From Marie, Brian and all the team at Seabirds-and-Seals

Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

The Noss Boat – 2023 Eco-Friendly Merchandise

We are absolutely delighted with recent photo shoot advertising our new range of Eco-Friendly Noss Boat merchandise for the 2023 season. Our hoodies, t-shirts, caps and tote bags are all 100% organic cotton. We are currently waiting for our Eco-friendly reusable water bottles to arrive, will upload photo and add to our online shop as soon as they arrive.
With our eco-friendly merchandise we are delighted to be
leading the way as a green tourism business.
Was great during the photoshoot to capture this beautiful lighthouse as a backdrop on the island of Bressay.  This is an iconic landmark on the island and on our Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours, we share history and many other stories about the lighthouse and local area.  
All photos credit of Sophie Whitehead, who runs her own local business called ‘Sophie Whitehead Photography’. We would like to thank Sophie and all our willing models who are happy to be named. Many thanks to our models – Laurie Goodlad Pottinger, Lena Pottinger and Mia Dalziel.
These items are available to purchase from us directly at the boat or via our online shop on our website where you will find many other fabulous gift ideas, ranging from greetings cards to puffin notebooks, also available to purchase on-board ‘The Noss Boat – Seabird’ throughout our 2023 season. You can find the link to our online shop by clicking on the link below – new items mentioned above to be added very soon.
#greentourism #ecofriendlymerchandise #brandedmerchandise
Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours


This year on behalf of RSPB Shetland, we were delighted to host the RSPB Pin Badges box onboard The Noss Boat ‘Seabird’.  The badges have proved most popular and during the 2022 season alone, we managed to raise a staggering £1208.00.  

Shetland is an incredible and unique place for wildlife.  The donations raised through these pin badge donations, will help towards keeping it that way, as every penny raised helps the RSPB carry out the work it undertakes towards protecting Shetland’s Nature and Habitats.

We look forward to hosting for them again in 2023!



Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Seabirds-and-Seals Receives Certificate For Donating Respitality Breaks


Shetland Carers recently presented a certificate to Marie & Brian Leask of Seabirds-and-Seals in recognition of  support of unpaid carers in Shetland through their Respitality Scheme. Shetland Carers, a project delivered under Voluntary Action Shetland, co-ordinate the scheme locally with support from Shared Care Scotland, who now support carer centres in 22 local authority areas to run Respitality Schemes.

Marie and Brian Leask of Seabirds-and-Seals said “We are delighted to support Shetland Carers and be part of the Respitality Scheme. All participants are so deserving of a welcome break and what better way than a trip out on the water to connect with nature and such beautiful surroundings. The Respitality Scheme is a very worthy cause.”

Respitality (respite + hospitality) is a way the hospitality and leisure sector can help their local communities by recognising and appreciating the contribution of unpaid carers, by donating short breaks to carers. This enables a carer, plus a companion, to have a break away from their caring responsibilities to recharge their batteries and have a little time for themselves.

A family of four, including an adult carer and two young carers, recently enjoyed a boat trip, courtesy of Seabirds-and-Seals, gifted through the Respitality Scheme. The carer said “We just had a lovely time aboard Seabirds-and-Seals, we would like to thank you so much for this break! What a brilliant trip around Noss, and we even saw a Minke whale! Just fabulous! Thank you so much!”



Trophy Cabinet Awards Keep Coming – UK Enterprise Awards 2022 – Winners Of ‘Best Wildlife & Photography Boat Tour Company – Scotland’

🌟 We are delighted to share that after being nominated, we have won – “Best Wildlife & Photography Boat Tour Company – Scotland” at the UK Enterprise Awards 2022 🌟.
We informed everyone in a Facebook post on 28th August that we received notification that we had been nominated for yet another award, but wanted to wait until winners published and before receiving our official logo before sharing our wonderful news and absolutely delighted to receive another accolade to add to our trophy cabinet 🏆.
We are absolutely delighted with our many 5-Star TripAdvisor reviews – the world’s largest viewing platform, ranking us as NO.1 in the Isles and leading the way as a top photography and wildlife boat tour operator.
We would like to thank those who nominated us, to all our customers, supporters, followers, friends and family – your support means a lot to us.
This has been an incredibly busy season for SeabirdsandSeals – Original & Best Noss Boat Tours – our busiest to date and our tour season has now come to an end, but we are busy making exciting plans for our 2023 season with many bookings coming in already.
We look forward to welcoming many more passengers on The No.1 Noss Boat as consistently ranked on Tripadvisor and have been for a good while now.