Passengers and staff were treated to the most spectacular marine mammal encounter imaginable on Saturday mornings Noss Boat tour when en-route to Noss, Shetland Seabird Tours bespoke wildlife boat found themselves surrounded on all sides by a fabulous group of over 70 White-beaked Dolphins, playing in the surf, riding the bow of the boat, and on occasion, leaping and breaching right out of the water in Noss Sound.

“It was an unforgettable experience, having never seen such a large, playful, showy group of Dolphin, you just didn’t know where to look or where to point the camera next!” SST Passenger

Free Willy moment aboard The Noss Boat on Saturday. @ Rebecca Nason/SST

After making sure delighted passengers, including the owners 7 year old daughter Ayda were getting super views & photo opportunities, Rebecca, who is a professional bird photographer & new OM SYSTEM Ambassador, took a series of shots of one mid-distance, boisterous animal which was surfacing regularly as if on a pogo stick!

Full belly view of a fabulous White-beaked Dolphin. In the 1970s White-beaked Dolphin was considered to be the most commonly encountered dolphin in Shetland waters. It was much scarcer in the mid 2000s, with just 13 reports between 2015 and 2018 and has now been replaced by Risso’s Dolphin as the most commonly encountered dolphin in Shetland waters. However 2022 has seen a surge in observations in Shetland waters again. @ Rebecca Nason/SST

She says ” I had taken numerous shots of dolphins as they surfaced in small groups all over the place, but find it a lot harder photographing cetaceans than birds and was struggling to connect with such brief surface encounters, which are all to often gone just after they are seen with no time to raise the camera, fully engage & press the shutter! I noticed a few animals leaping right out of the water a little further away and decided to concentrate on these as they were visible for a few seconds longer out of the water whilst fully breaching. I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked at the back of the camera & realised that I had caught this stunningly beautiful marine mammal in full breach & that it was sharp! These images were only possible due to the awesome mirrorless OM SYSTEM gear I converted to during lockdown, the autofocus is just super fast, so I didn’t miss the moment!

Full breach! Doing the twist with a quick side view profile showing the fabulous blunt white nose. @ Rebecca Nason/SST

Cetaceans are being observed from Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat with increasing regularity, and this year has been exceptional with numerous sightings including the biggest ever counts we’ve had of Minke Whale, Basking Shark & Rissos Dolphin, also magical Orca encounters & daily Harbour Porpoise observations. All this on top of the dramatic wildlife spectacles surrounding the seabird city of Noss, with it’s awe-inspiring cliffs heaving with birdlife, and over 25,000 northern gannets in full breeding mode, surely one of Europe’s finest wildlife encounters by boat.

Owners, Rebecca & Phil are still buzzing from their weekend boat experience, with tours soon winding down for another season. “It has been our best year to date in both numbers of passengers & wildlife encounters, & we are fired up to see what the 2023 season brings. We have several varied contracts now into late autumn including working with the National Oceanography Centre survey team’s  Boaty McBoatface project off Bressay. And  as finalists in this year’s coveted Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, in the Best Visitor Attraction Experience” category, we are looking forward to joining the other Shetland category finalists for the awards ceremony in November in Inverness before we get back to finishing some new business developments in 2023″. Rebecca & Phil

All images taken using OM SYSTEM:



 

 

Reaching for the stars. White-beaked Dolphin at Noss Sound on Saturday. @ Rebecca Nason/SST
Surfacing White-beaked Dolphin: Other names include White-nosed Dolphin & Squidhound!
Water streaming off the backs of two White-beaked Dolphins. @ Rebecca Nason/SST
White-beaked Dolphin, water cascading from its dorsal fin – Noss Sound. @ Rebecca Nason/SST

 

 

 

We are surprised & thrilled to have been shortlisted as finalists in this year’s Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards in the “BEST VISITOR ATTRACTION EXPERIENCE” category. We could receive no greater accolade to be nominated in this highly regarded Scottish tourism award and are delighted for the other Shetland-based companies who have also made it into the 2022 shortlist in other categories, Garth’s Croft Bressay in the Food Tourism Award, Wild Skies Shetland in the Working Together Toursim Award & No 88 Ltd in the Best Eatery Experience.
THANK YOU to all our passengers, followers, friends, family & supporters who have helped make Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat, a strong, successful, leading wildlife & photography tourism attraction on the Isles. We are now enjoying the last month or so of our 7th year in business and our busiest year to date. We are already working on new plans for the 2023 season. Rebecca & Phil x

HIGHLANDS & ISLANDS TOURISM AWARDS SHORTLIST IS REVEALED!

THE shortlist for the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards (HITA) 2022 has been announced.

The return of the Awards this year, sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland, saw a record number of entries.

BEST VISITOR ATTRACTION EXPERIENCE

Sponsored by Port of Cromarty Firth Authority

Highland Wildlife Park

Loch Ness by Jacobite

Shetland Seabird Tours ‒ The Noss Boat 

 

The judging panel was delighted with the strong field of submissions, particularly after such a challenging two years for the sector.

Chair of the judging panel, Calum Ross, Loch Melfort Hotel, near Oban, said: “Not only did we have a record number of entries for the Awards’ return this year but the standard of submissions was exceptional. We had an incredibly strong field this year which is all the more remarkable given the huge challenges and disruption to our industry over the past two years.

“It is fantastic to see so much resilience and work that went into each entry and so many businesses that took the time to apply. Of course, that made our job of shortlisting the entries all the more difficult!”

HITA chairman Laurence Young added: “After two long years, it’s exciting to be able to bring the Awards back. Everyone can now look forward to a wonderful Awards night where we can celebrate the achievements of our sector and recognise the dedication, professionalism and excellence shown right across the Highlands and Islands.”

https://www.shetlandseabirdtours.com/booking/

BOOKING NOW BEING TAKEN FOR 2023

 

 

We were thrilled to recently receive a very special award from Tripadvisor, an award only given to 1% of businesses across the tourism sector! We were left literally speechless  – what an accolade! We take such pride in our Noss Boat wildlife tour experiences and customer service as well as our original, inspired and expanding business branding. We have been leading the way as the eco-focused, No.1 Noss Boat since our beginnings as a local, family run business back in 2016 and have been amazed at how the business has grown and managed to ride the covid wave to come out stronger than ever. Being owned and run by partners of nearly 20 years, Phil Harris & Rebecca Nason who are both lifelong birders and conservationists has really helped keep us focused and given the business a strong platform. We have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the spectacular marine wildlife around Noss with thousands of passengers each year, and thank everybody for such incredible feedback and support. THANK YOU!

 

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travelers’ Choice Awards recognize the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests. Ranking among the Best of the Best is always tough — but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travelers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform*, helps hundreds of millions of people each month** become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travelers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before. With more than 988 million reviews and opinions of nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places nearby. As a travel guidance company available in 43 markets and 22 languages, Tripadvisor makes planning easy no matter the trip type.

www.henleyspiers.com

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat, are delighted to see the photographic side of our business develop so well over the last few years alongside our regular, popular scheduled tours. Since we started our boat tours back in 2016, we have collaborated & enjoyed working with some amazing names in the photographic and film industry, honing out skills to be able to offer a professional, knowledgeable boat platform to help others achieve outstanding results. We have regularly collaborated with the incredible underwater photographer, ecologist and Shetland resident Richard Shucksmith who has brought some outstanding photographers aboard bespoke workshops and tours all catering for different styles and requirements from amateur to professional. In our first of many showcase posts, our first highlights the latest photographic successes of the awesome Henley Spiers, who we welcomed aboard last year for the first time and who will be joining us again in 2022. Henley recently won 1st and 3rd places in the UPY 2021 British Waters Wide Angle category, see below. Henley has also written a fabulous illustrated article on his Shetland experiences last year in this months COAST magazine.

Gannet Success: 

With the @upycontest results just released and now whizzing their way across news outlets worldwide (no joke), I’m glad to report that a couple of my frames made the final collection. Not having left British waters in 2021, it’s great to see a couple of my favourite marine moments appreciated by the judges, picking up 1st and 3rd place in the British Waters Wide Angle category.

The category winner is entitled ‘Gannet Storm’ and as an extra bonus it’s also the cover shot for the UPY 2022 Yearbook:

“A northern gannet swims in an artistic hail of bubbles created by diving seabirds. 40,000 gannets visit the nearby cliffs annually to lay and care for a single egg, fishing for food nearby. Hitting the frigid water faster than an Olympic diver, these incredible birds have evolved airsacs in the head and chest to survive these repeated heavy impacts. From underwater, the sound was thunderous as streamlined, white torpedos pierced the surface. I wanted to create a novel image of these handsome seabirds and resolved to try and capture their movement through a slow exposure. The speed of the gannets led to innumerable failures but in this frame we retain strong eye contact with the gannet, even as the scene is artistically softened. With great thanks to @richardshucksmith , without whom this encounter with the gannets would not have been possible.”

Here’s what judge @alexmustard1 says: “That eye and this moment. A powerful picture. Diving gannets have won this category before, but we’ve never had a portrait like this, that reveals both the personality of this predator and the energy of the action.”

You can read all about Henley’s successful trip to Shetland in 2021 in this months COAST magazine!


ABOUT

Henley Spiers, half British and half French, is a renowned photographer, writer, and trip leader who has fast become one of the most highly decorated underwater shooters in the world.

Starting his professional career in diving as an instructor, working in the Philippines, Indonesia and Saint Lucia, he later fell in love with underwater imagery and made the transition to full-time photographer.

Since then, Henley has amassed a prolific series of award-winning images, including two category wins in the Underwater Photographer of the Year, winning first prize in the Black & White category of Nature Photographer of the Year, and winner of the Ocean Geographic David Doubilet portfolio award.

Henley’s photography has been published in the likes of The Sunday Times, Der Spiegel, and Sierra Magazine, and frequently graces magazine covers.

As an accomplished (and bilingual) writer, Henley’s words often accompany his images, and he is a regular contributor to DIVER magazine (UK), EZ Dive magazine (Taiwan), Plongez magazine (France), and Hakai magazine (Canada). Readers enjoy Henley’s conversational writing style, delivering insight without pretension and usually with a touch of humour. Notably, he has also written for Asian Diver, Outdoor Photography Magazine, bioGraphic, and Black + White Photography magazine.

In 2019, Henley co-authored Black is the New Blue Vol. II, showcasing blackwater diving. His latest book, the Guide to Cebu, co-written with wife and frequent collaborator, Jade, showcases the very best of diving in their former home. Available in the Philippines, the international launch for Guide to Cebu has been delayed due to the current pandemic.

Henley also leads trips to see incredible underwater wildlife encounters, specialising in small-group adventures to rarely seen locations and events. Sought-after as a teacher, Henley’s coaching on these trips has seen a number of attendees go on to become award-winning photographers in their own right.

Although he would be the first to admit that he can still do more to help, Henley has so far enjoyed collaborating in the field of ocean conservation with Blue Marine, Mission Blue, Bertarelli Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Devon Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Wildlife trust, and Thunnus UK.

In 2019, Henley was honoured to be invited by Blancpain to the Edition Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment programme, joining a select group of the world’s foremost underwater photographers.

 

 

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat gains professional WiSe Award Accreditation  – March 2022.  We are leading the way as a major boat-based tourist attraction in Shetland, on how to behave & operate responsibly & safely around the marine wildlife rich environment here on Shetland. We are delighted to be the first to have this accreditation for the start of the 2022 season, having been aware of WiSe for many years. Its main aim of minimising disturbance to marine wildlife is also fundamental to our own company ethos and branding, having two professional ecologists at its core.

“All commercial operators trained and accredited under the WiSe Scheme have an opportunity to lead the public, through demonstrating the example of best practice in the field and ensuring that all commercial operations are sustainable. In doing so you will be helping the long-term future of our precious marine life, for the benefit of future generations”.

www.wisescheme.org

The UK’s national training scheme for minimising disturbance to marine wildlife

The waters around the UK are home to a fantastic variety of marine wildlife, whether visible from the shore or from a boat. However, these wild animals are vulnerable to disturbance if not encountered in a manner that respects their wild nature.

The WiSe Scheme is about watching marine wildlife the wildlife-safe way.

Our aim is to promote responsible wildlife-watching, through training, accreditation and raising awareness. The WiSe Scheme is a simple modular training course aimed primarily at wildlife cruise operators, dive and service boats, yacht skippers and sea kayakers, plus people participating in coasteering, stand-up paddle boarding and wild swimming. These groups of people are most likely to come into contact with marine wildlife, as they are likely out on the water on a regular basis. We also seek to educate the general public who are keen to minimise their impact whilst out on or near the water.

“We enhance people’s understanding on how to avoid disturbing wildlife”…….

THE No.1 NOSS BOAT  – IT’S OFFICIAL – BEST IN SCOTLAND – COME & JOIN US & SEE WHY!  BOOKINGS NOW BEING TAKEN FOR THE 2022 SEASON….

WOW! 🏆 thank you such! Another award to end the year with……

Shetland Seabird Tours has just been named Scotland’s: ‘Best Wildlife & Photography Boat Tour Company 2021’ at the SME News Scottish Enterprise Awards! What an incredible end to an exceptional Noss Boat season! Thank you so much to all our passengers, followers & supporters! We can’t wait to get back out on the water showcasing Shetland’s rich marine life & supporting Shetland’s tourism industry in 2022 x

 

 

Scotland’s Best Wildlife & Photography Boat Tour Company’ article in local SHETLAND TIMES – December 2021.

We were amazed to find Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat  – named & recommended in The Week magazine this summer as part of being recognised as 1 of the top 10 UK boat tours 2021 in The Guardian. Thank you to all the readers for recommending us, it means a huge amount to receive such positive, honest feedback from so many! We remain Shetland’s premier Noss Boat, the only boat run by naturalists & the longest running Noss Boat tour company. We are so delighted to showcase one of Europe’s finest wildlife spectacles with so many tourists & locals alike since we started business in 2016. If you haven’t already, as one of our original business slogans suggest: Come & experience a real gannet’s eye view – with The Noss Boat…… © SST 2016-2021

We look forward to welcoming you aboard……

We were thrilled to find out in July that we were named as 1 of the top 10 best boat tours in the UK published in The Guardian & voted for my readers. Please click on the link below to see the article.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/jul/08/10-great-uk-boat-trips-scotland-cornall-london-chosen-by-readers

 

 

 

 

We are delighted to showcase our smart new logo for the 2021 season and beyond, featuring an additional Orca combined with our original double gannet logo. We think the combo works really well and highlights two very special marine wildlife species associated with our boat tours. We hope you like it! We are of course now open for bookings for the 2021 season (April-October) ……………