Shetland Nature

Wildlife, Birding & Photography Holidays

5* Shetland's only Five Star Tourism Awarded Wildlife Experience
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Otters in Shetland

Enjoy and learn about otters with Shetland’s leading otter tour specialists

  • Photo by Brydon ThomasonLearn otter field craft and tracking skills
  • Educational insight into otter ecology and behaviour
  • Unrivalled up-to-date local knowledge of sites & environment
  • Peace of mind that you are also supporting otter conservation
  • Track & watch otters along Shetland’s beautiful unspoilt coastal wilderness

Otters are undoubtedly one of, if not Shetland’s most popular wildlife attraction. Through an unrivalled combination of our field experience, local knowledge and understanding of otters here in Shetland we are widely known as the islands leading otter tour specialists. This is a reputation that has developed around Brydon’s lifelong love of the islands otters spanning over 30 years. It is with great passion and pride and through fellow ‘otter addict’ colleagues Richard Shucksmith and Gary Bell that we delight more visitors with otter encounters and experiences than any other tour company.

Our otter experiences

Leading otter tours and working with them all year round is a true privilege. Sharing our knowledge on the families we study, their ecology and behaviour along the shores they inhabit is immensely gratifying.

Along with the thrill of seeing otters in their natural environment our tours are structured in a way that our guests learn about their fascinating lives and understand how, where and when to find and watch them responsibly.

Brydon Thomason with Doug Allan; one of the world's best known wildlife cameramen

Brydon Thomason with Doug Allan; one of the world’s best known wildlife cameramen

As he we explored stretches of shoreline where he knew the otter territories, Brydon patiently explained about heeding the wind direction, staying off the skyline, talking softly, how to look for the tell tale signs of the otter signs and holts. I’ve worked with many guides while filming, and I could see he had real sensitivity and all the patience. The afternoon slipped by effortlessly. We spent 30 minutes watching a female with her two cubs full frame binocular view, diving, catching fish and taking them ashore to eat and playing on the shore. Simply magic. You know the great thing about Brydon? No matter what happens, you know you’re going to have a good day when you’re with him.Doug Allan – Wildlife Cameraman

Up to date local knowledge is essential to the experience we offer. We study Otters all year round and our working lives essentially revolve around them and the rhythms of the tides that their daily routines follow. Throughout the seasons we know which sites are active and monitor the routines of families in particular to maximise our chances of maintaining the level of experience we offer.

Each season offers a new and exciting perspective. Mothers tend to make their first appearances above ground with young cubs in autumn and so the winter offers a wonderful insight into family life. Through the shortened hours of daylight their foraging activity tends to be condensed, which maximises opportunities. The everlasting summer sun and the beautiful Shetland simmer dim.

We take our responsibility to otters along with our professionalism and reputation as leading otter guides very seriously, which is widely recognised through guest recommendations and the many film crews and Television documentaries we have worked on.

Responsible tourism & supporting otter conservation

A percentage of each guest we take out on our otter watching day tours is donated to support The Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary who care for and rehabilitate otters and also seals. We also actively support The International Otter Survival Fund and make a donation from every guest on our Shetland Otter Experience Holiday packages as well as help out with any activities, events or promotions as and when we can.

Otters are widely known for their many endearing and fascinating attributes but just as much so is their shy and sensitive nature. Knowing this and how to watch them without revealing our presence to them is essential. Putting their well being before our desires is imperative at all times to ensure they are not disturbed.

Otters are protected by law and although their numbers are slowly increasing in the UK they are still listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in the Red Data list. We operate under a schedule 2 License authorized by Scottish Natural Heritage.

What we can do for you:

Photograph Otters

Otter Photography with Brydon Thomason

Brydon’s lifelong love of otters and his passion to capture the fascinating and entertaining behavioural aspects of their lives helped him create and develop a niche for photographers (from serious amateur to well-known professionals) seeking a specialist assignment from all over the world.

Read about Otter Photography.

Otter Package Holidays

The Shetland Otter Experience Holiday

A totally unique holiday dedicated to otters, led by otter addicts – for otter addicts! This holiday profiles one of Britain’s most loved, captivating and admired mammals, led by well known otter guides.

Read more about The Shetland Otter Experience

Otter Day Tours

Shetland Otter Watching Experience

Spend a day with us along some of our most beautiful remote stretches of shoreline where otters abound. Learn about their movements and daily routines; how and where to find them and how to read the signs and track them along our shores.

Read more about Shetland Otter Watching Experience.

Otter Photography Workshop

Focus on Otters – photography, ecology and fieldcraft

A holiday itinerary dedicated to otters and those who adore them! We visit and explore the most densely populated sites and habitats that otters inhabit around Shetland and share our knowledge of the otter families and individuals that belong to them. With five full days of otter tracking time and evening discussions and presentations all on otters – this holiday provides an unrivalled insight into the lives of otters.

Read more about Focus on Otters

Learn more about Shetland’s Otters

Shetland is arguably the best place in Britain to see Eurasian Otters with the islands actually boasting the highest density of these marvellously evocative mammals anywhere in Europe and in fact probably the world! Here Otters evolved to be much more at home in the salt-water coastal environment where they thrive owing to Shetland’s pristine waters and wonderfully wild, remote and breathtakingly beautiful coastal habitats.