Coastal Habitats

The Moray Firth’s estuaries are a haven for wildlife and the steep cliffs at the edges of the Firth make great nesting sites for thousands of sea birds.

Along the Moray Firth coast, there are many sheltered bays where sand or mud settles. Estuaries and mudflats are exposed at low tide and, although they may look empty of life, they teem with buried marine snails, worms and crustaceans. This provides an important food supply for waders and other shore birds which can be spotted along the shoreline. Estuaries also provide food for many fish and invertebrate species, and act as nursery grounds for young fish.

In the summer months, cliff sites around the Moray Firth are noisy places. Thousands of sea birds come to nest on the cliffs and rear their young, competing with each other for space on the narrow ledges. Just along from Macduff, at Troup Head, is Scotland’s only mainland gannet colony. From April to September, visitors can enjoy watching the gannets raise their chicks, via a live camera link with Troup Head.

A variety of marine mammals can be seen from the Moray Firth coast – the aquarium’s car park makes a good vantage point. Seals and bottlenose dolphins may be seen in the Moray Firth all year round and come close inshore, while larger minke whales are occasional summer visitors to the firth. The Moray Firth has Britain’s largest resident population of bottlenose dolphins.

StarfishFish Finder – a guide to what you may see in the coastal habitats exhibits.