East Caithness Cliffs NCMPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This area is home to many seabirds including 1,500 breeding black guillemots who live on the crevices and ledges of the sea cliffs between Wick and Helmsdale. This is the most important site in Scotland for this stunning bird. It provides them with a vital, rich source of food. There is also a Special Protection Area here to protect the cliffs which these seabirds call home.

MPA Type

Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area

Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas (NCMPAs) are designated under UK legislation (Marine Scotland Act 2010) and have been established around Scotland to contribute to the UK MPA network by protecting a range of important habitats, species and features of the seabed.

Designation date

24 July 2014

Surface Area

114.27 km2 (44.12 mi.2)


156.25 km (97.09 mi.)

  • Black guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

    In summer an unmistakable black and white bird with bright red feet. In the winter it dulls to more subtle shades of grey and white. Black guillemots are usually found in ones and twos, scattered around rocky islets.

Did you know?…

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’