The seas around Scotland are among the richest in Europe for marine mammals. Scotland holds about 70% of Europe's population of grey seals ( Halichoerus grypus) and about 35% of the EC population of common seals ( Phoca vitulina), emphasising the important role that these mammals have in Scottish waters.
In addition, over twenty species of whales, dolphins and porpoises (known collectively as 'cetaceans') can be seen around the Scottish coastline. These include common dolphins, minke whales and killer whales.
Scotland is also home to the most northerly pod of bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus) which are found within the Moray Firth - designated a marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in March 2005.
The Scottish Government has responsibility for the conservation, protection and management of seals and cetaceans found within Scottish waters and in July 1999, it also became responsible (on behalf of the Crown) for dealing with Royal Fish found stranded on Scottish shores.
It works closely with a number of partners to ensure a co-ordinated approach, including: