Many special plants can be found in the largely undisturbed sand dunes of the protected areas, such as sea rocket and Norwegian wintergreen, both of which are red-listed. Previously, red-listed species were also recorded in connection with the old grazing pastures, such as common moonwort and field gentian. These are probably now locally extinct, although you can see more common plants such as cow parsley and globeflower in these areas. Because of all the guano from the birds, there is often lush vegetation beneath the bird cliffs, including oyster plants.

Photo: © Stine Emilie Nøding Hansen
Photo: © Vigdis Helgesen Nylund

On land

On land on the many islands, a more land-based fauna can be found. Populations of elk can be found here, and on calm days they are happy to swim between the islands. Hares, and a number of rodents such as lemmings and shrews, can also be found here.

A wide variety of small birds can be found in the forest belt and cultural landscape of the islands, while gulls and cormorants will sit in the intertidal zone as eiders and mallard swim past. Greylag geese graze on the islands and islets. Among the birds nesting on the rock faces are eagles and ravens.

Bird cliffs

On the bird cliffs, such as those on Sørfugløya, you may encounter puffins, black and common guillemots, and razorbills. Gulls and cormorants inhabit the islets and rocks. At Kvitvær, you may also see gannets. Ducks can often be seen in the shallows as they moult following the breeding season, while eagles sit on exposed rocks on the intertidal zone digesting their newly-consumed meals of fish.

Photo: © Christian Caspersen
Photo: © Ståle P. Fremnesvik

The sea

A range of exciting species can be seen in the sea. Corals, Icelandic scallops and kelp forests can be seen on the seabed. Zooplankton, prawns, cod, pollock and wolffish swim in the bodies of water. On the surface, common and grey seals can often be seen popping up their heads out of curiosity. Harbour porpoises, Beluga whales and orcas swim past and can provide a wonderful treat as they come up for air.