The sea, coastline and small islands provide a range of habitats, supporting a rich terrestrial and marine flora and fauna. On land, the intertidal sand and mud flats of Kinlochmoidart, Loch Moidart and Kentra Bay in Moidart and the Ardnamurchan support a diversity of wading birds such as dunlin, common and green sandpipers, redshank, curlew and oystercatchers feeding on the abundance of bivalve molluscs and polychaete worms.
The rugged and heavily indented coastline, of exposed shoreline and sheltered bays supports an abundance of red, brown and green seaweeds, a diversity of marine molluscs and crustaceans, and thriving populations of otters. A great place for coastal expeditions, seashore safaries and discovering the wonders of rock pools.
Sublittoral sands and gravels, sub-tidal reefs, tidal rapids, deep-water muds characterise the underwater environment, with the sand banks and maerl beds of coralline red algae at Arisaig being of international importance, supporting the giant sea-pen (Funicularia quadrangularis).
Some of the seas lochs of Lochaber, for example Sunart, Linnhe, Ailort and Nevis, support dense beds of flame shells (Limaria hians), brittlestars and the rare unattached knotted wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum ecad mackaii). The sea loch anemone (Protanthea simplex), the Northern Hatchet shell (Thyasira gouldi ) (a relict species from the last Ice Age) and the nationally scarce spoon worm (Amalosoma eddystonense) have also been recorded in Loch Sunart.
The open sea supports a range of cetaceans including harbour porpoise and minke whale, as well as basking shark, grey and common seal. Numerous seabirds, including gannets, guillemots (including black), razor bills, shags, cormorants, puffins, red-throated divers, fulmars, kittiwakes, terns and Manx shearwaters, as well as eiders and other sea ducks, can be found along near the rocky coast or in the open sea. The coastal cliffs of the Small Isles also support nationally important breeding colonies of some of these seabirds. The magnificent white-tailed eagle with a two metre wingspan breeds on the mainland, as well as the Small Isles.
These are just a few of the highlights to be found in the rich variety of habitats associated with the terrestrial, coastal, marine and freshwater environments of Lochaber.