North Rona and Sula Sgeir SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

The site is named after these two small remote islands in the North Atlantic, about 65 km from the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, off the north-west coast of Scotland. Sula Sgeir is about 15 km west of the larger North Rona. ┬áSula Sgeir is eroding from the sea spray that hits it so has very little soil or vegetation. ┬áThe islands provide a well-placed nesting location for large numbers of seabirds which feed in the waters off the north coast of Scotland, including large numbers of petrels, auks, gulls and Gannets. It is one of only seven known nesting localities in the EU for Leach’s Petrel.

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 October 2001

Surface Area

68.47 km2 (26.44 mi.2)


46.74 km (29.04 mi.)

  • Razorbill (Alca torda)

    A migratory bird that breeds on coastal cliffs and spends the rest of the year at sea feeding on small fish like sandeel, sprat and herring.

  • Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)

    Puffins are unmistakable and much loved birds. Sometimes referred to as the clown among seabirds they are one of the world’s favourite birds. With half of the UK population at only a few sites it is a Red List species.

  • Northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

    Almost gull-like, this grey and white seabird is related to the albatrosses. It flies low over the sea on stiff wings.

  • European storm-petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus)

    A small seabird that only comes to land to breed and spends the rest of its life at sea. They nest in burrows below ground on offshore islands.

  • Great black-backed gull (Larus marinus)

    A very large, stocky, black-backed gull.

  • Northern gannet (Morus bassanus)

    Adult gannets are large and bright white seabirds with black wingtips. They feed by flying high and circling before plunging into the sea. They breed in significant numbers at only a few localities.

  • Leach's storm-petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)

    A bird, about the size of a starling, that comes ashore at night to breed on remote islands and spends the rest of it’s life on the open ocean. Few remain in the northern Atlantic.

  • Black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

    A small cliff nesting seabird named for it its nasal “ki-ti-waak”” callnotes. The population is declining in some areas

  • Seabird assemblage (Seabird assemblage)

    Important areas where a number of seabird species occur in significant numbers.

  • Common guillemot (Uria aalge)

    One of the most common birds breeding on sheer, crowded cliffs known as ‘seabird cities’. This seabird only comes to land to breed and spends the rest of its life at sea.

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

Did you know?…

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

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

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns