|UK Grid Reference:||HU462240|
|Population:||None (Inhabited until mid 1800's)|
|Ferry Services:||Passenger service in summer from Leebitton.|
|Notes:||See below for conservation status|
Mousa, from old Norse Mosey, meaning Mossy Island, lies on the east side of Mousa Sound which separates it from Sandwick on the east side of the south Shetland Mainland.
The island is almost split in two by the inlets of West Ham and East Ham, and in fact maps show the island named in two parts as North Isle, and South Isle.
At the east side of the island the Mousa Lighthouse stands on the small islet of Peerie Bard, which is separated by Bard Sound from the Muckle Bard, on the south side of which it The Swarf, a rocky area most notable as the point where the St Sunniva was wrecked on 10th April 1930.
Other wrecks on the isle have included the Friends which wrecked on the isle in January 1800, the Haabet on January 2nd 1826, Le Jeune Alphonse on April 4th 1853, the Waterwitch in East Ham on the night of December 22nd/23rd 1855, the Algieba on July 17th 1914, the Majken on February 15th 1923, the Provide was beached on the west coast after going on fire on December 7th 1932, and the Dyrhaug on the Muckle Bard on April 16th 1959.
Mousa was populated until the mid 19th century - there were 70 people there in 1774 - and the ruins of the laird's house (the residence of the Pyper family) can still be seen near to the world famous Mousa Broch, which was the home of the early iron age residents.
During the summer months a passenger ferry, which can carry 60 passengers, operates from Leebitton in Sandwick, to a jetty at West Ham. This ferry service is very popular with visitors to Shetland who are interested in wildlife, as Mousa is home to large colonies of grey and common seals (selkies), otters (dratsies), guillemots (tysties), fulmars (maalies), arctic skuas (skootie aalins), great skuas (bonxies), arctic terns (tirricks), and, perhaps most notably, storm petrels (alamooties).
Special night time ferry trips are laid on to the island so that visitors can witness the spectacle as hundreds of these dainty little birds return from feeding far out to sea, to the walls of the broch, using the cover of Shetland's partial summer darkness, known as the Simmer Dim, to avoid predators.
The whole of Mousa is a Designated Nature Conservation Area with the island itself being scheduled as
- Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and
- Special Protection Area (SPA)
and the waters sourrounding the isle as a
- Special Area of Conservation.
In addition the whole island is protected as a RSPB Bird Reserve.
- Mousa Boat-trips
- Mousa Nature Reserve
- Mousa Storm Petrels, photos by Hugh Harrop
- Charles Tait - Photos
- A spot broadcast on National Public Radio, Nov. 29, 2009, "Seeing Seabirds Is A Twitcher's Rare Treat"