Coastal & marine habitats
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The long and convoluted coastline, which is largely undeveloped, is rich in habitats and species, with natural transitions from land to sea. The coastal cliffs of the Small Isles are home to breeding seabirds and birds of prey, including Manx shearwater and sea eagle.
Coastal grasslands, heaths and scrub on the more basic rock types, such as on the isle of Eigg, are of particular interest for their plant life and for insects such as burnet moths.
Fragments of saltmarsh, dune and machair occur in places such as Kentra Bay and Sanna.
Lochaber’s sheltered coast also supports a healthy population of otters, which can be even be spotted minutes from Fort William town centre on the shores of Loch Linnhe.
Lochaber has an exceptionally rich marine fauna and flora, especially in its many sea lochs, notably Lochs Sunart, Ailort, Linnhe, Leven, Moidart and Nevis. Important habitats include rocky reefs, deep-water muds, maerl beds, tidal rapids and beds of unattached knotted-wrack.
Notable marine species found include the giant sea-pen and dense beds of flame shells.
Around Ardnamurchan and the Small Isles, submerged rock and sandbanks are also important habitats. The surrounding seas provide essential feeding grounds for basking sharks, cetaceans such as harbour porpoise, and numerous seabirds including guillemots, gannets and Manx shearwaters.