Otters in Shetland

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

  • Photo by otter photography client Richard Bennet.

    Photo by otter photography client Richard Bennet.

    Learn 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
  • Brydon & Richard authors of acclaimed book ‘Otters in Shetland – the tale of the draatsi
  • Go-to team for TV productions for otters inc BBC’s Springwatch, Countryfile, One Show

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. He has worked on and featured in or worked on over 15 TV productions as a consultant/guide, including BBC’s Springwatch, Countryfile and One Show featuring Shetland’s otters, and co-authored the acclaimed book ‘Otters in Shetland – the tale of the draatsi’ in 2015 with friend and SN colleague, Richard Shucksmith.

It is with great passion and pride and through fellow ‘otter addict’ colleagues Richard Shucksmith, Josh Jaggard, John Moncrief 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 run otter watching experiences all year round and are proud to delight more visitors with otter encounters than any other and hope we can do the same for you. Rest assured no one will try harder or with more passion or enthusiasm.

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 in the UK. We operate under a schedule 2 License authorized by Scottish Natural Heritage.

What we can do for you:

Photograph Otters

Photograph Otters in Shetland

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.

Read about Otter Photography.

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.

When and how

Knowing when, where and how to look for these wonderful little mammals is essential, not just for the observer experience but more importantly to avoid disturbance. We ensure the otters well being comes first at all times. Choosing to spend a day or two with an expert guide will offer unique and exclusive opportunities to watch otters in the wild, learn about their behaviour and search for the tracks and signs that reveal their presence.

Important information

Please be sure to accurately let us know your physical ability. Generally speaking the sites we visit will involve coastal walks, usually of just two to three miles across low lying but often uneven terrain such as along the seashore. We can however and often do put trips together for guests who would not feel suited to the above.

It is important to note the sensitivities when planning otter tours and know that our Shetland otter experience is best suited for two to four people. Special arrangements can be made for slightly larger groups for families or experienced wildlife watchers travelling together.