Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Green Tourism Gold Award…Leading The Way Into 2024 – 07.03.2024




The 2024 season is getting off to a fantastic start…from ‘Service Excellence’ to Green Tourism ‘Gold Awards’.  We are over the moon to receive such awards alongside our Visit Scotland Prestigious 5-Star Accolade as well as our double Highlands and Islands Thistle Awards  2023 for ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ & ‘Inclusive Tourism’.  We are proud to be promoting Shetland’s Tourism sector and will continue to keep doing what we do best.  We are currently working on another new addition to the business which we hope to announce soon. 

We were last assessed by Green Tourism in early 2023 when we were delighted to be awarded ‘Silver’.  We have worked hard over this past year on our sustainability practices with an aim to achieve ‘Gold’ and delighted to say we have achieved the highest standard of sustainability.  This award is in recognition of our solid commitment to sustainability, we have evidenced that we have a strong and broad environmental ethos by providing excellent examples of best practices.  This is a very important journey for us on becoming a more sustainable tourism business. 

Green Tourism is a world-leading sustainability accreditation partner, they recognise and support eco-friendly achievements of tourism businesses with their internationally respected accreditation programme.   Achieving a Green Tourism award means that our sustainability practices have been assessed and verified by a credible partner.  Green Tourism has assessed our business against 15 sustainability criteria grouped under the pillars of People, Places and Planet.

Green Tourism Bronze/Silver/Gold awards are acknowledge 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.

Overall Feedback From Green Tourism

“Seabirds and Seals have done an excellent job in achieving Gold following on from their Second GreenCheck assessment. They have displayed excellent understanding of sustainability and awareness of opportunities and challenges associated with running a responsible business. The team have shown great commitment and are embracing sustainability throughout the business, as evidenced by the several examples of green best practice within the business. The areas they are strong in are Community, Health and Wellbeing, and Destination. The key are of focus going forward should be on Carbon. I have added some applicable actions to the action plan. Overall, Seabirds and Seals have shown an amazing commitment to green issues and are obviously eager to do as much as possible to be sustainable and not only reduce their impact on but also improve the environment around them”.

Moving forward, Marie Leask, our Sustainable Tourism Advocate, will monitor our sustainable performance and advise the business on how we can implement further improvements.    

Thank you so much to all at Green Tourism – we really value your input and all the support given by the extremely friendly team to help us through the assessment process. 

We are supported in our sustainability practices, and in our improvement journey by the world-leading sustainability accreditation partner, Green Tourism. Achieving a Green Tourism award means that our sustainability practices have been assessed and verified by a credible partner. It shows that we have an ongoing commitment:

• to sustainability standards and practices
• to work responsibly, ethically, and sustainably
• to contribute to our community
• to reduce our impact on the environment, and
• to be accessible and inclusive to all visitors and staff.

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

Our Main highlights

We were assessed and rated by Green Tourism’s Technical Team, who are trained to IMEA standards.  Green Tourism also helped us to highlight our areas of sustainability strength.

At our last assessment our sustainability highlights included: a 97% score in Community for our strong commitment to support vibrant local communities. 

Our second highlight was to achieve 97% in Health & Well-being for our very strong performance in all areas of protecting and supporting staff and customer health and wellbeing. 

Our third highlight was to achieve 95% in Destination for excellent promotion of our destination area and how to enjoy it. 

Other highlights include:

Experiences  for our outstanding knowledge of local area and how to enjoy it responsibly.

Equality, Diversity, & Inclusivity  for our excellent commitment to ensuring we are welcoming and accessible to all.

Communication – for great examples of how to use our green story and policies along with social media to highlight our commitment to sustainability.

We’re so proud to have achieved these excellent scores under the Green Tourism pillar of People / Places / Planet which are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What Do The Green Tourism Gradings Mean?

Green Tourism provides an overall grading of Gold, Silver, or Bronze depending on the overall score achieved across the comprehensive criteria.


Typically, an entry-level business, who are in the early stages of its green journey but has shown great commitment to making its business work more sustainably and is currently implementing a range of measures related to the 15 goals across all three pillars of People, Places and Planet.


Typically, a business that falls under this category can demonstrate good practice across our three pillars of People, Places and Planet, but has an action plan of best practice improvements that will enhance the sustainability practices within the business. 


A business that achieves the highest standards of sustainability has a strong and broad environmental ethos and can provide excellent examples of best practice throughout the majority of the three pillars of People, Places and Planet. It has made significant changes to its working practices and continues to review and maintain them.

Of those businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry that put themselves forward for Green Tourism’s third-party verification, around one-third achieve bronze, one-third silver, and one-third bronze. Our grading at the last assessment early 2023 was Silver.

Our Next Assessment

Our next assessment will take place early 2025 when we aim to achieve a Green Tourism Gold award again.

Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

The Noss Boat – Travel & Hospitality Awards Winner 2024- 10.02.2024

We are over the moon with news delivered earlier this week announcing that we are winners at the Travel & Hospitality Awards for ‘Boat Tour Of The Year – Scotland’.  We were chuffed to hear earlier on in the year that we had been nominated for this awards and now found out that we have won.

We would like to thank everyone who nominated us, our many passengers, social media followers and friends from all over the world for all your support.

We are super excited about our 2024 season starting on 7th April.  We are delighted this year to see so many new collaborations.  We are busy working behind the scenes getting the boat ready and all our advertising up to date.  We have loads of bookings already so do book your tour early to avoid disappointment as our 5-Star tours are extremely popular.

We would like to share a press release in bold below from The Travel & Hospitality Awards Team:

United Kingdom, 24/01/2024: The Travel & Hospitality Awards is delighted to announce that Seabirds-and-Seals – The Original Noss Boat Tours has been honored in the prestigious 2024 European Awards program. This recognition exemplifies Seabirds-and-Seals – The Original Noss Boat Tours’s unwavering commitment to excellence and exceptional service in the travel and hospitality industry.

The recipients of the Travel & Hospitality Awards in 2024 were meticulously chosen based on a comprehensive analysis of reviews from various independent sources. A panel of experts meticulously evaluated submission materials, reviewed customer feedback, and compared the facilities of each participant. Our esteemed winners are those who have showcased their exceptional qualities, outstanding services and facilities, and unparalleled commitment to customer satisfaction across numerous categories.

This year’s awards received an overwhelming response, and the caliber of entries was remarkably high. The judging panel faced the challenging task of selecting the winners, and those chosen truly represent the epitome of excellence in the travel and hospitality industry. The Travel & Hospitality Awards team stated, “We were astounded by the exceptional quality of entries this year. We trust that this guide will serve as a valuable resource for discerning travelers as they plan their next luxurious getaway. Congratulations once again to all our deserving winners.” 

 THE TRAVEL & HOSPITALITY AWARDS celebrate the remarkable achievements of companies in the travel and hospitality industry worldwide. These awards recognize organizations that have gone above and beyond in providing exceptional experiences to their customers. With a meticulous selection process and a panel of expert judges, the Travel & Hospitality Awards serve as a trusted resource for discerning travelers seeking the finest establishments and services in the industry.


Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Christmas 2023 – The Noss Boat Gift Vouchers – 04.12.2023

With just 3 weeks until Christmas, time to start thinking about gifts for your loved ones. We have the perfect gift with our 5-Star Noss Boat Tours gift vouchers. Our gift vouchers have no expiry date. The voucher photo in this post still shows 4-Star but we are now proud to be a 5-Star Tour and just using previous stock before doing any updates.
  • Awe-inspiring sights & sounds: 

    Get up close & personal to this extraordinary seabird metropolis, home to 25,000 Northern Gannets and thousands of other seabirds towering the sandstone cliffs of Noss. Superb opportunities to see and photograph Shetland’s wildlife against the stunning backdrop of the 181-metre-high Noss cliffs.  We spend quality time at the Cliffs which has fantastic photography opportunities. 

  • Amazing gannet diving experience:

    We bring along fresh fish to give you the opportunity to see gannets encircling & diving right alongside the boat, always a great highlight.

  • Local Knowledge by expert local guides:
    Your dedicated guides provide fun and engaging live commentary to suit all interests/ages and welcome any questions you may have.  Individual headsets are provided for each passenger so you can hear your guide(s) fully throughout the tour.  We share our great knowledge on the wildlife, local history, geology and folklore that surrounds Lerwick’s harbour.  We explore the South Coastline of Bressay where we share our knowledge on Bressay Lighthouse, the Orkneyman’s Cave, the Giant’s Leg Rock arch and so much more.  

Gift Vouchers available up to the value of your choice, you can find our 2024 tour prices and scheduled tour start times by clicking onto the link below. All tours are two hours plus with refreshments included.
We have sold a good number for Christmas already and throughout the year for Birthday’s, Anniversaries etc – thank you to all who have purchased.
We also believe strongly in supporting local community events and throughout the year we donate vouchers to support their fundraising efforts. Our most recent donation was a £120 voucher which we presented to Ability Shetland for their online auction. Well done to the lucky recipient for supporting such a worthwhile cause. We look forward to welcoming you onboard ‘The Noss Boat’ and we also look forward to hearing the final sum raised from the online auction.
You can purchase our vouchers online, once you navigate to the website link above, you simply click on the Gift Certificates heading and then click on ‘Buy Certificate’. If you don’t want voucher emailed directly to the lucky recipient, click on the details heading top left and follow the instructions there – see screenshots at foot of this post. 
Alternatively you can contact us directly on +44 (0)7595540224, email: or send us a private message here on Facebook.
Happy Christmas shopping 🛍️
Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours




After being shortlisted in July under two categories, the team here at Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours are absolutely over the moon to have won both categories that we were shortlisted for.  We attended this amazing event at the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on 10th November.  The two categories we won under are for ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ followed by ‘Inclusive Tourism’ ❤️.
It is an honour to be recognised by these prestigious awards, known as Scotland’s tourism industry’s Oscars’.  
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 huge thank you to the judges, sponsors Great Glen Distillery & The Royal Bank of Scotland and to all who made these fabulous accolades possible 🙏.
These incredible awards are a testament to our passion, hard work and dedication into providing a top visitor attraction as well as inclusive for all who sails with us.
We are absolutely buzzing to be bringing these fabulous awards back home to Shetland.
We would also like to take this opportunity in Congratulating all the other category winners, to all highly commended and to everyone who made it through as finalists – you should be very proud – Well Done.
We were joined at the Drumossie Hotel on Friday 10th November by family members, thanks for coming along to show your support, one even came from as far as Kent – thanks to you all, we love you ❤️. The first win of the night was Marie’s Mum winning the Loganair flights raffle prize – well done.

Double Finalists – The Herald Scottish Family Business Awards – 21.11.2023


We are absolutely delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted as finalists in two categories at this years ‘The Herald Scottish Family Business Awards’.
The two categories we have been shortlisted for are:
⭐Commitment to the Community
⭐Scottish Family Business of the Year (Micro) – Sponsored by Business Gateway.
We look forward to attending the awards ceremony in Glasgow on 7th December and meeting all the other fabulous Scottish businesses that have been shortlisted – good luck.
We couldn’t be prouder of our team and are so thankful to all of our amazing supporters for making this possible!
You can read more about the awards by clicking on the link below.
Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Attending McKinlay Kidd 20th Anniversary Celebrations 21.11.2023

Celebrating 20 Years Of McKinlay Kidd
We had a fantastic time in Glasgow on Thursday 2nd November, where we joined team McKinlay Kidd in celebrating 20 years of business.
Year after year we work in collaboration with this fabulous company and such a fantastic team to work with. The business was launched in 2003 by husband and wife team Robert Kidd and Heather McKinlay. They are dedicated to helping independently-minded visitors get the most out of their holiday and now employ a team of around 20, mainly based at their office in central Glasgow.
From day one, their principle has been that they won’t send you anywhere they haven’t been themselves, delighted you have Shetland and our tour on your itinerary. We provide our Noss Boat Tours to all their clients who come to Shetland and from all over the globe. Was great hearing feedback from the team on the night, that our tour is a holiday highlight for all clients who book their Shetland tour.
We called along their office through the day prior to the evenings events to present them with a Shetland hamper – thank you to Island Larder for making up such a fabulous selection. We hear the puffin poo is going down a treat.
The evening was fantastic, good music, food, drams and excellent company. Was a great opportunity to meet many of their other suppliers and some of their team over from Ireland. As they say in Ireland “was good craic”.
We look forward to working with the fabulous team for many more years to come.  
We were delighted to get a photo with some of the team – from left to right:
Marie Leask, Robert Kidd, Heather McKinlay, Jenni McGuinnes, Zoe Davidson, Brian Leask and back row we have a fabulous photo bomb from Conor Donnelly 😂.
Seabirds-and-Seals - The Original Noss Boat Tours

Our Green Story – Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours 20.07.2023

Our Green Story

We are Marie and Brian Leask, both Shetland born and bred with a lifetime’s experience of our islands’ heritage. We’ve been together since 2005, got married in 2019 and we run the award-winning Seabirds-and-Seals Noss Boat Tours. We grew up around boats and have extensive seafaring experience, having spent more than two years sailing a 52ft yacht from Shetland to the Mediterranean and back before we bought the Seabirds-and-Seals business.

We operate daily from April through to October, weather permitting of course. All our tours are 2 HOURS PLUS.  For years our business has taken thousands of visitors and locals around the islands of Bressay and Noss, guaranteeing close-up views of Noss National Nature Reserve, one of Britain’s most sensational reserves. The island’s 181m sandstone cliffs are home to 25,000 gannets and thousands of other seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and puffins.

Our passengers have superb opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife against the stunning backdrop of the towering cliffs. On the way out to Noss we share stories about the wildlife, local history, geology and folklore of Lerwick’s beautiful harbour and the varied shoreline of Bressay. We sail past the Bressay Lighthouse, explore the eerie depths of the Orkneyman’s Cave, sail through the Giant’s Leg natural arch and explore seal holms and sheltered coves.

As well as our popular scheduled daily tours we offer a year-round private charter service for photography groups, wildlife tourism companies, visiting film crews and other excursion parties who book exclusive use. We also help with scientific monitoring of seabird and seal colonies.

Our catamaran ‘Seabird’ is a much more stable platform for passengers than a conventional single-hulled vessel: there’s wheelchair-accessible deck space for panoramic views; spacious inside cabin; and also a toilet at deck level – no steps to climb.

With 31 years of continuous trading, Seabirds-and-Seals is the longest-established Noss boat tour business, founded in 1992 by naturalist Dr Jonathan Wills with Brian involved as marine engineer and relief crew from the start. All these years later, we’re still sailing under Jonathan’s brand ‘The Noss Boat’ and are currently ranked the Number One local excursion on TripAdvisor (just one of the many wildlife tourism awards in our trophy cabinet).

Jonathan pioneered underwater viewing in Scotland, using remotely controlled submarine video cameras. We continue this unique feature on our alternative tour days when weather prevents us getting our passengers to Noss during their time in Shetland.  This experience has enthralled visitors from all over the world with amazing views of Shetland’s rich and diverse marine life, including the dense kelp forest that recently starred on David Attenborough’s ‘Wild Isles’ BBC TV series.

Jonathan’s lavishly illustrated book, ‘Seabirds-and-Seals’, tells the story of this successful local wildlife tourism venture and provides a detailed guide to the coastline of Bressay and Noss, above and below the waves. Copies are on sale aboard The Noss Boat ‘Seabird’ and at our online shop

We are very proud to have received a Green Tourism Silver grading award earlier this year. 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.

Connecting with communities

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 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 to 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 know how hard Covid has hit businesses and like to see Lerwick town centre staying alive, so we decided to team up with a local business that gives 20% discount to each adult that joins our tour and can be used at a choice of two establishments they run.


Amanda of Shetland Carers presenting us with our certificate of thanks for signing up to their fantastic scheme

Out of the water

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 took the time to make further developments by opening our online shop to let the world see our eco-friendly Noss Boat merchandise as well as other products which make fabulous gift ideas. 

When Covid restrictions eased in 2021 to allow us to operate again, 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.  Customer care is everything to us and we always like to hear our customer experiences/feedback.  One thing we decided to trial following feedback was a hearing loop.  We trialled it last year and worked ok, but since then we have invested in individual handsets/headsets for each passenger.  So far it has been a huge success with fabulous feedback and adds that personal touch to the tour, we believe in social inclusion for all. 

We include a refreshments stop on all our tours – anchoring in a tranquil little bay which offers plenty of wildlife and photography opportunities.  We use ‘Fairtrade’ products which is sourced locally from our  Co-Op supermarket. 

Our tours are very family friendly with activities for our younger sailors and each receive a FREE eco-friendly activity pack. 


The first Noss Boat Tour of the 2023 season with the sun shining throughout and 12 extremely happy passengers.  As you can see from the photograph, our boat is wheelchair accessible and the only boat tour operating out of Lerwick to offer this fabulous feature.  

Strength to Strength

Our business continues to go from strength to strength. Thank you, Green Tourism for giving us this opportunity and it sure was a fabulous start to our 2023 Noss Boat Tours season. We will continue to keep updating our Green Tourism assessment as we progress through the action plans we have in place through Green Tourism. Our team are committed to reducing our impact on the planet, and 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’ in the future.

Best wishes from Marie, Brian and all the team at Seabirds-and-Seals.

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.