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Isle of May National Nature Reserve

The island now serves as an important research centre for breeding seabirds, such as puffins, guillemots and razorbills, as well as the grey seals that pup here in autumn.

The reserve's wildlife are also stars of the big screen. A remote controlled camera on the island beams live pictures to the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick


Wildlife Highlights

The Isle of May is a long rocky island with sheer cliffs and caves. It is home to thousands of grey seals, the fourth largest breeding group in the UK, who feed in the rich kelp forests surrounding the island. It is most famous for its seabirds, over 200,000 of them, which include shags, puffins, terns, guillemots, razorbills, eider ducks, gulls, kittiwakes and fulmars. The huge west cliffs are teeming with seabirds in summer.


As well as its natural history, the May has a long and interesting cultural history with ancient lighthouses, remains of human activity and shipwrecks. The wreck of the steamer Anlaby lies off the western side in 18 metres of water, now providing a home to fish such as wrasse, saithe and conger eels.

how to visit

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) welcome boat trips to the island from April until the 30 September and SNH do not charge for visiting. The island has a visitor centre and marked paths covering the island.


Passengers will travel to the Isle of May from North Berwick harbour in a high speed RIB. The Isle of May photographic trips are open to age 18+ and cost £45 per person (10% discount for Scottish Seabird Centre members). Trips will take place from 11 April to September – for a full list of dates visit

All trips can be booked in advance online at, by calling 01620 890202 or in person at the Scottish Seabird Centre.  Bass Rock landing trips can now also be booked online, via the Seabird Centre’s website. 



The Isle of May lies about 7-8 kilometres off shore, south east of Kilrenny.

Grid reference: NT649991

These maps are intended as a guideline only; you must check the exact location of the reserve yourself. Wildlife Extra assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or usefulness of the information on this website.


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