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Gannets at Lerwick

Visit Lerwick harbour in 1946, as a mass of gannets spectacularly dive bomb into the water. A breathtaking amateur film from Theo Kay with fishing boats, birds and Shetland magic.

Amateur film 1946 11 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Scotland's Moving Image Archive


Visit Lerwick harbour in Shetland in 1946, and watch with the fishermen as a mass of gannets dive bomb like vertical torpedoes into the water after the fish. Victoria Pier is bustling with fishing boats, ships and puffers, men with vans come and go, and the town hall, shops and houses overlook it all. A breathtaking amateur film from Shetlander Theo Kay that will enthrall bird lovers, Shetland enthusiasts and anyone curious about these remote, but unique and magical islands.

Inspired by Jenny Gilbertson’s films of Shetland, this short amateur film by her friend, Theo Kay, captures harbour life on the islands in the post-war era. Still a busy fishing port, Lerwick harbour is used by around 2,000 fishing boats every year, which land over 66,000 tonnes of fish with a value of over Ј62.5 million. The harbour has also evolved to support the oil and gas industry which developed during the 1970s, providing Shetland with one of the healthiest economies in the UK. The gannet colonies in Shetland are still thriving, with around 25-30,000 breeding pairs on the islands. They are able to enter the water from heights of up to 40m above, and can reach speeds of over 80 mph in their spectacular dives.