Shetland’s wildlife above the surface is spectacular and world-famous (even Alaska doesn’t have such accessible, large seabird cliffs) but beneath the waves it can be even more amazing.
This underwater world used to be Shetland’s best-kept secret, known only to a few hardy scuba divers. But now you don’t have to get cold and wet to see it.
Our 10:15am & 2:15pm boat trips include underwater viewing with a remotely controlled tethered mini-submarine, ‘LOMVI’ (Lowered Overboard Marine Viewing Instrument). A camera on the submarine feeds live colour video images onto two display screens in the cabin.
The techniques we’ve pioneered and perfected since 2001 enable us to give you a unique and unforgettable show of the teeming sealife below the surface of The Shetland Sea.
Lights on the underwater camera reveal the astonishing colours and variety of this marine wonderland. It’s not dark and grey down there after all – it’s a Technicolor riot of biodiversity.
Many passengers have told us that these fascinating underwater images are the most memorable and unexpected part of their boat trip with Seabirds-and-Seals. Most surprising of all is the revelation that there’s far more life below the surface of The Shetland Sea than above it.
Early and late in the season the underwater visibility can be astounding here, in one of the most productive seas on Earth.
In summer there’s usually a thick fog of plant plankton with “snowflakes” of animal plankton grazing on it. In a glass-bottomed boat you’d see only a few metres into this “life soup” but with the remotely controlled camera we can steer in close up and see everything in astonishing detail.
Diving between 10 and 25 metres down, we discover rocky reefs, boulder-strewn gullies and Shetland’s secret forest – the vast beds of waving kelp fronds that are home to hundreds of species.
We swim the camera inside caves and along submerged cliff faces for extraordinary views of the teeming sealife – including zooplankton, sea urchins, crabs, comb jellies, soft corals, sea anemones, sea mats, and colonies of other strange and ancient animals that look like plants but can survive and thrive in total darkness
Large fish such as pollack and wrasse cruise by. Sometimes guillemots put on an underwater flying display for us. And we often meet the ever-inquisitive seals – which will occasionally swim up and nuzzle the mini-submarine.
With our experienced Captain, Brian, and knowledgeable naturalist Marie, enjoyed breathtaking views of the Noss cliffs, seabird colonies, the coastline, and seals with the bonus of learning some local history and snagging some very special underwater views. On a cool and windy day on the water, the coffee/tea and biscuits served were a nice touch as well. Can't imagine a better way to see the area and wildlife - or better folks to guide us. The boat was comfortable and provided some protection from the elements as well!!
So I was visiting my friends in Lerwick and I had a few hours to spend so inspotted the seabird and seals boat, I approached Brian (owner) and asked if there was room for 1 more and there was. I was told to be at the pier for 2pm, I was and we set sail around 2.15pm, we had a safety brief from Marie and it was very clear but also relaxed. First stop was out to a shipwreck where they anchored and put down an underwater camera so we could see the sea life and the wreck, it was really amazing and you could all see clearly on the two television screens. We then proceeded to see the seals then out towards Noss, I don't want to spoil the trip for anyone but it was fantastic and the best £45 I have spent in a while, included were tea & biscuits as well, we were away from 3 and half hours, great company, great boat and overall fantastic experience, well done to you both.
We were so, so lucky...We started slowly with a fascinating camera exploring the sea life around an old wreck. Then we got serious, out into open water and the spectacularly rugged coasts of the islands of Bressay and Noss...The cliffs of Noss were one of the greatest natural sights I've ever experienced. With the sea hammering us and the captain keeping us steady maybe four feet from the rocks, we were at the base of 592-feet-high cliffs, with 25,000 birds above us, sitting/nesting on every speck of ledge, many diving beak-first at high speed to spear fish, the noise of the birds overwhelming. At one point I wondered what would happen if one bird noticed us and mused, "Fancy a change from fish today?" We were probably there half an hour, and it's a half hour that will live in our memories a long time. Lots still to see after that, including backing up into a cavern in a cliff, and anchoring in a cove for tea, coffee, and biscuits. What an incredible tour!
This tour was arranged by our cruise ship and it's a must do for anyone visiting Lerwick in Shetland Islands. We saw such beautiful birds and the two owners were so knowledgeable and friendly. Also rock formations and caves were beautiful. Loved the gingerbread cookies and coffee. Also the views from underwater camera were great!
A belated review from a visit to Shetland in May this year - we had an amazing trip with Brian and Marie round the cliffs of Noss and Bressay. They were both extremely knowledgeable and friendly, seemed to know everything about the wildlife we encountered on the tour, plenty of new things to discover even for someone who grew up in Shetland. we saw grey seals, gannets, great skuas and shags, we couldn't believe how many birds were nesting around the cliffs! The weather was nice enough for Brian to bring the boat right into the Orkneyman's Cave, as well as sending down the ROV to a small wreck at the North mooth of the harbour. would definitely consider taking the trip again, and recommend to both visitors and islanders alike.