Projects to restore native oyster beds and improve a whale trail are among those sharing in £1.33 million of lottery funding.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has announced cash for five new projects focusing on the sustainability of Scotland’s seas and inland waterways and their habitats.
They include £216,400 for a project to restore native oysters on a sea loch on the mid-Argyll coast by growing up to one million of them over five years to create a self-sustaining population.
Charity organisation Sea Wilding will be working with volunteer group Craignish Restoration of Marine and Coastal Habitats (CROMACH) to grow the oysters in floating baskets to be moved to trial seabed sites that were once widespread in the loch.
Another grant, of £443,000, will be used to redevelop Edinburgh attraction Dynamic Earth’s Ocean Galleries into a “contemporary immersive exhibition” designed to inspire and educate more than 250,000 people a year about Scotland’s deep sea heritage.
Caroline Clark, Scotland director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “As we celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, there has never been a better time to raise awareness of the important role our marine heritage has in the future of a sustainable environment.
“Not only is the direct conservation we fund vitally important but we hope that through our projects there will be increased awareness of how and why we need to change our behaviours in order to protect our future.”
Meanwhile, a £250,000 funding boost will help the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Centre in Tobermory on Mull be redeveloped as the Gateway to the Hebridean Whale Trail, which links 33 sites across the west coast of Scotland.
The project will strengthen the Hebridean Whale Trail, including new interpretation in the centre, films and a programme of activities to educate visitors, in both English and Gaelic, on the marine heritage of the Hebrides.
Elsewhere on the west coast, the natural habitat of the Plock parkland near the Skye Bridge will be improved to provide an important green space for the local community with the help of £196,100 award.
A £228,100 grant to the Gateway to Gigha project will help protect the natural and cultural heritage of the island through a new community initiative encouraging more people to travel without their car and providing foot and cycle access to the island’s historic sites.