Photo: Ivan Reid.

Whalsay, looking north over Symbister. Photo Ivan Reid.

Known locally as Da Boanie Isle, and lying off the east side of Mainland Shetland, its population has for centuries depended largely on fishing and seafaring for its survival.

Though it is barely seven square miles in area – a mixture of peat moor and small fertile coastal patches – its excellent harbour at Symbister has, over many decades, made it one of the of most important centres for Shetland’s fishing industry. Whalsay men have long fished for their livelihood in the North Sea and further out in the rough waters of the north Atlantic, as well as in the whaling industry around both Greenland and the South Atlantic.

Many others have also served in the merchant and royal navies.  Some, with their womenfolk also, have worked in the fish packing and processing industries based in Whalsay and continue to do so.


© Crown Copyright and Database Right 2015 Ordnance Survey (Digimap Licence)

More information on the island can be found at