The Big White Rock – is it poop? Gannets?

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Bass Rock from boat
View of Bass Rock From our Boat

See that large volcanic rock in the photo above?

When we visit Scotch’s family in Dunbar we can see that rock, known as Bass Rock, from almost everywhere along the coastline. On this recent visit to Dunbar, Scotch and family thought it would be a good idea for Wee Scotch and I to take a boat over and check out the island and see what really makes the rock white.

Bass Rock lies 1.2 miles (2 km) off the coast of Scotland and from shore it looks white but it’s not really. There are over 150,000 white birds (with an orange-yellow head) called gannets that call Bass Rock their home and that give the rock the illusion of being white in color.

Gannets on Bass Rock
Gannets on Bass Rock (photo credit:

From Wikipedia:

“The island plays host to more than 150,000 Gannets and is the largest single rock gannetry in the world, described famously by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the wildlife wonders of the world”. When viewed from the mainland, large regions of the surface appear white due to the sheer number of birds (and their droppings, which give off 152,000 kg of ammonia per year…”

We took a boat trip on the Sula II, which set sails from North Berwick (about a 30-minute drive from Dunbar), to check out the island. At the time of our sailing, the price was £13 per adult and the sailing time was about 1.5 hours.

Sula II

The crew were very friendly and shared lots of information about the history of the islands.

In addition to Bass Rock, we also motored around Craigleith island which is home to the largest puffin colony on the southern side of the Firth of Forth. We also saw a few playful seals which was unexpected (for me) and a cute sight.

Ferry to Bass Rock
Wee Scotch, Scotch, and Papa riding the boat to Bass Rock on the Sula II

The rock is currently uninhabited but there is a functional lighthouse as well as ruins of a castle, a chapel, and it was once used as a prison.

The Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick has solar-powered cameras on the island – and if you are interested, you can click here to see these images over the web.

Bass Rock
Lighthouse and Gannets on Bass Rock


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