Sule Skerry and Sule Stack SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

These are two small and remote islands of Sule Skerry and Sule Stack which lie in the North Atlantic, west of Orkney. Sule Skerry is about 60 km from Orkney, while Sule Stack is another 8 km to the south-west.  The islands provide well placed nesting spots for large numbers of seabirds which feed in the waters off the north coast of Scotland. It is one of only seven known nesting localities in the EU for Leach’s Petrels. 

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 March 1994

Surface Area

39.10 km2 (15.10 mi.2)


35.34 km (21.96 mi.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)

    An inshore seabird that is only found in the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean. It is seldom seen out of sight of land and nests on particular islands and cliffs in colonies of up to several thousand pairs.

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets

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

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed