Shetland’s Otters

– with the UK’s leading Otter tour specialists

The Shetland Islands are home to the highest density of the Eurasian Otter in Europe – and quite probably, the world. They are captivating animals; full of character that lead fascinating lives and are highly evolved to exploit both the underwater and terrestrial environments. Here on Shetland they generally live their lives to the rhythms of the tides along the saltwater coast.

Few species of carnivore encapsulate the ‘aww’ and ‘wow’ factors like Otters do. From the stealthy predatory abilities in their marine environment, to the remarkably attentive parenting of a mother to the wonderful playful antics of sibling cubs.

We have shared Shetland’s Otters with thousands of visitors from countries all over the world. One thing that particularly fills us with pride is just how many say that time with them here, is every bit as exhilarating than any big cats; apes; great whales or bears. In fact, watching Otters on Shetland topped a poll of Global wildlife experiences in Travel magazine, just a few years ago, ahead of a host of exotic activities including tracking wolf packs in Wyoming, swimming with sharks in Australia and killer whales in Norway, polar bear safaris in Canada and feeding hyenas in Ethiopia and we were proud to be recommended for the experience in the feature.

Why us?

Otters are in our very foundations as a tour company at Shetland Natures. It was Brydon’s lifelong love, experience and knowledge of Shetland’s Otters, spanning over 40 years that helped us establish and grow to the company we are today. It is now thanks to Otter peer professionals Josh Jaggard, James Rogerson and John Moncrieff that we facilitate the number and standard of Otter experience we do.

Through our unrivalled experience, knowledge and field skills we bring you into their world, sharing their behavior and ecology whilst exploring their territories along some of the islands most remote and beautiful coastlines. Here we are not only looking for the animals themselves, but educating on how, where and when to find them and above all, how to do so responsibly. This aspect of the Otter experiences we offer is at the forefront of how we lead these tours, and the reputation we have because of that.

We study Otters year-round, season by season and so at our core sites especially, know each and every individual within it. This level of up-to-date knowledge allows us to follow their lives with intimate knowledge of their routines, social structure and family life, which can be particularly special, following a mother’s trials and tribulations with her cubs.

As a European protected species, we operate under a Schedule 2 license, authorized by NatureScot for the work we do on Otters. Though this may not be a requirement to look for, watch or photograph Otters in general terms, this license demonstrates our ethics, professionalism and commitment to ensuring the Otters wellbeing comes first.

The Go-to team for media

Brydon has worked on, featured in and consulted on over twenty television productions featuring Shetland’s Otters.  From the very latest top level ‘blue chip’ documentaries to the primetime shows such as the BBC’s Watches series, Countryfile and One Show to name but a few. In 2015 he fulfilled a lifelong ambition in co-authoring the acclaimed ‘Otters in Shetland – the tale of the draatsiwith Richard Shucksmith who he collaborates with on numerous Otter related projects, from filming to ecological consultancy.

Why Shetland?

The status of Otters in Britain and Ireland has changed dramatically over recent years. The recolonization across all counties is widely recognized as a great conservation success story. Thankfully, this now means they can be enjoyed at many popular and well-known locations. Shetland however, with the highest known density, is still widely regarded as the best place to experience, photograph or film Otters in the wild.

There is however much more to the Shetland Otter experience that makes it so unique. Here, the remote undisturbed, coastal environments they thrive in stretch for miles, allowing a visual perspective of their territory that is unhindered by the viewing obstacles and logistical constraints that often characterize their environment through woodlands, winding rivers and Scottish sea lochs.

With these advantages, we can study and follow them for hours at a time and better still, we are away from crowds and shared encounters now widely associated with the main honeypot sites elsewhere in the UK. Add to this the backdrop of Shetland’s rich coastal environment where Arctic Terns forage offshore; Fulmar soar along the clifftops; the evocative calls of Red-throated Diver heard overhead or perhaps even Orca passing in the distance (yes, it does happen!) and it is fair to say, nowhere does Otters like Shetland.

Testament to all of this is that from as far back as the mid 1980’s, with Hugh Miles’s groundbreaking film, ‘Track of The Wild Otter’ through to the many current ‘blue chip’ natural history documentaries – Shetland is the go-to location to tell the story of the Eurasian Otter.

Watch a film by David Tipling and Tesni Ward who were on an autumn assignment for OM Systems cameras, led by Brydon:

What we can do for you:

Book on an Otter watching tour

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.

Contact us to book

Shetland Otter Photography Tours

Specialist one-to-one guiding service for photographers looking to photograph wild otters – undoubtedly one of the most sought after, challenging and ultimately rewarding subjects for wildlife photographers in Britain.

Find out more