The Shiant Islands (Na h-Eileanan Seunta)
The Shiant Islands, situated in the Minch off the east coast of Lewis, have been designated a Special Protection Area for the conservation of wild birds. Huge numbers of puffins nest here and thousands of kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and fulmars nest among the basalt columns (like Staffa). In July 2009 Europe’s oldest puffin, aged 34, was discovered on the Shiant Islands, beating the previous record holder, an Icelandic bird, by one year. An ancient 32 year old puffin was also found which had, unbelieveably, originally been ringed on the same island in 1977.
As well as many seabirds the Shiant Islands were home to rare black “plague” rats (Rattus rattus) which arrived via a shipwreck. Cats were imported to control them but this proved impossible. A recent eradication project has been successful and monitoring continues to protect the ecosystem of the Shiant Islands.
DID YOU KNOW?
Male Orca can grow to 30ft long and weigh over 10 tonnes. Females are slightly smaller than males but still formidable hunters!