Manatee spotted in the Caledonian Canal

Scottish Canals can confirm that reports of a rare mammal sighting at Banavie on the Caledonian Canal are true.

After receiving a call from a concerned member of the public, Scottish Canals’ environmental team investigated the claims and were able to capture photographic evidence of a manatee swimming in the canal.

The unexpected visitor is the first to be spotted in a UK inland waterway.

Speaking of the news, Dr Olaf Pirol, Head Environmental Scientist for Scottish Canals, said: “We received a call yesterday evening from a member of the public who had spotted a large creature in the canal. Of course, our first thought was that ‘Nessie’ had been sighted again.

“Once we understood the mammal was in Banavie, we sent a team to investigate and, while unable to obtain any clear photos of the animal, they were able to confirm that the species was in fact a manatee.

Dr Olaf Pirol

“We believe this to be another example of how global warming is drastically impacting our ecosystem.  With changes in water temperature, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of freshwater plants in our canals. This provides ample food stock for large herbivores and makes the canal an ideal home for these great mammals.”

Scottish Canals will now undertake a protected species survey.

Boaters are able to transit the canal as normal.

Notes to Editors

  • Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals
  • As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for 251 bridges, 212 buildings, 256 locks, The Falkirk Wheel and 19 water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland
  • The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
  • Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles
  • The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year
  • For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter

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