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Dramatic island sea-life showcased online

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Virtual underwater dives showcasing some of Scotland’s most dramatic sea-life have been published online.

The computer animated dives reveal some of the country’s hidden underwater landscapes and the variety of animals and plants that live there.

The dives have been published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) on their website as a means of allowing people to see a part of the country which not many will usually get to experience.

Among the highlights are a dip with bottlenose dolphins amongst the seagrass meadows of the Sound of Barra, or swim with basking sharks and rare fan mussels in the rich waters off the Small Isles.

Owen McGrath, of SNH, said: “We are all used to seeing spectacular underwater footage on television from exotic locations such as the Caribbean or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

“Many of us are probably less familiar though with the rich variety of marine life in the seas around Scotland.

“We hope these dives will give people a feel for just how special the seas here are and encourage them to explore the sea life of the Hebrides for themselves.”

The virtual dives were created using real survey data gathered by divers along with video footage, photography and sound recordings, to reflect, as accurately as possible, the fascinating and colourful environment in Scottish waters.

The dives focus on two of Scotland’s most notable sites for marine wildlife.

The Scottish Government recently designated the waters around the Small Isles of Canna, Rum, Eigg and Muck as a marine protected area.

This means that the area has a number of restrictions in place in order to protect the natural ecosystem.

This includes the rare fan mussels which are believed to be the UK’s only known colony.

They also recommended the Sound of Barra to the European Union as a Candidate Special Area of Conservation.

The virtual dives are available on SNH’s Scotland’s Seas Interactive webpage.

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