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.