Ailsa Craig SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

Ailsa Craig is a cone-shaped granitic island, rising to 338m, situated in the outer part of the Firth of Clyde, western Scotland. Besides being home to Europe’s biggest gannet colony and an increasingly significant number of puffins the island also boasts rock which is said to be perfect for the manufacture of curling stones! Two thirds of all curling stones are reported to be made from Ailsa Craig granite.

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 April 1990

Surface Area

27.59 km2 (10.65 mi.2)


21.78 km (13.54 mi.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Herring gull (Larus argentatus)

    Herring gulls are large, noisy gulls found throughout the year around our coasts and inland around rubbish tips, fields, large reservoirs and lakes, especially during winter. Though they seem to be everywhere, populations continue to decline.

  • Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)

    The UK is home to¬†40% of the world’s population of this medium sized gull and there are serious concerns about declines in parts of its range.

  • 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