Protecting the Port Environment

Securing a future for the Port means a secure future for the Firth.

We are fortunate to look after a stretch of water that provides a home for a diverse range of wildlife. The Firth is a great place for spotting an abundance of birds and marine life which coexist happily alongside port activities.

Did you know?

  • Each year there are 30,000 wintering birds sheltering in the Firth, including internationally significant numbers of wildfowl and wading birds. Many of the shores around the Firth are protected as Ramsar sites or Special Protected Areas (SPAs). Read more >
  • There are 300 pairs of nesting terns between Alness and Nigg. These birds are regularly monitored by the RSPB during their nesting season. Read more >
  • 195 bottlenose dolphins make their home between the Cromarty Firth and Dundee. This is one of only two resident populations of bottlenose dolphins in the UK. They are protected under a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Read more >

There’s an abundance of thriving wildlife in and around the Firth, spread across 36 miles of coastline.

Discover bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises and Eurasian otters. Or keep an eye out for a variety of bird species, from terns to ospreys, geese and swans.

To support this abundance of wildlife, a large proportion of our shores are protected. We also work alongside the RSPB and Moray Firth Coastal Partnership to ensure we’re fully supporting this sensitive area.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has two nature reserves in the Cromarty Firth: Udale Bay and Nigg Bay.

Both areas provide a home to thousands of geese, ducks and waders in the winter, and breeding eider, terns and osprey in the summer.

Visit the RSPB website to find more information about the wildlife, including seasonal species, found at Udale Bay and Nigg Bay.

The Port is a vibrant, ecologically important and protected environment and we take our environmental responsibilities extremely seriously.

A large proportion of the Firth’s waters and shores are protected by international directives, including a Special Area of Conservation, in partnership with the Moray Firth Coastal Partnership, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Ramsar sites for the protection of birds, and Special Protected Areas.

These directives protect species including one of the UK’s two resident populations of bottlenose dolphins; whooper swans; bar-tailed godwits; common terns, which nest on the Port’s Service Base; red-breasted mergansers; ospreys; and greylag geese, which overwinter in the Firth.

The Moray Firth Coastal Partnership (MFCP) plays a unique role as a neutral, independent charity in promoting and facilitating sustainable solutions to the marine and coastal challenges faced by the Moray Firth and its communities.

Port of Cromarty Firth has long supported the partnership as we recognise the importance of balancing economic, social and environmental sustainability in such a sensitive area, with current project support including a focus on marine litter, in addition to engagement with schools and providing core funding to the MFCP.

Part of MFCP’s role is also to provide secretarial support to the management group that has responsibility for managing the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Visit the Moray Firth Coastal Partnership website to learn more.

Keep up-to-date with the latest tidal predictions for the Cromarty Firth online or visit our Port Office in Invergordon or local bookshops to pick up a paper copy.

Wintering Birds in the Firth

As the colder weather draws in at the Firth, so do approximately 30,000 wintering birds, including significant numbers of wildfowl, such as geese and ducks, and wading birds.

To support these birds, many of the shores around the Firth are protected as Ramsar sites or Special Protected Areas (SPAs).

Supporting Cromarty Firth’s Nesting Terns

Terns are small to medium sized migratory seabirds that are often found in Africa, South America and south-east Asia in the winter, and the UK in the summer. They’re typically drawn to the north and west coasts, especially in Scotland and Ireland, including the waters of the Cromarty Firth.

The Terns of Cromarty Firth

Colonies of Arctic and common terns make the Port their home for breeding over the summer months, arriving in May to early June with 300 pairs of nesting terns habitating between Alness and Nigg.

During this time, they’re regularly monitored by the RSPB to ensure their home in the Scottish Highlands is safe.

To look after these birds among the activities of the Port, we deploy a tern raft, something we’ve been offering since 2022. The raft is designed to be a man-made island habitat for the terns to nest on, safe from any ongoing activities at the Port. We additionally advise mariners and anyone operating within the Port to give the raft a wide berth to avoid disturbing any nesting birds.

To learn more about the terns found near the Port of Cromarty, visit the RSPB website.

Bottlenose Dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins are large and grey in colour, and are the most likely dolphins to be seen from British shores, including the waters of the Cromarty Firth.

Bottlenose Dolphins in the Firth

We’re proud to be home to one of the only two resident bottlenose dolphin populations in the UK, with 195 dolphins residing between the Cromarty Firth and Dundee.

With many placing dolphin spotting at the top of their list when they visit the Highlands, and to ensure they happily coexist amidst the activities of the port, the dolphins are protected under a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) to ensure they coexist amidst the activities of the Port.

To learn more about the dolphins who call the Firth their home, visit the Moray Firth Dolphins website.