MILLPORT'S Field Studies Council has enjoyed the most successful year in its history as over 13,000 visitors flocked to stay at the centre.

Manager Alex MacFie says the island facility has seen 'unprecedented growth' in 2019 as the number of both day and night visitors soared.

She told how people have travelled from across the world during the last 12 months to check out the island, while the number of locals through the doors has also seen a significant rise.

Alex says they have welcomed schools, universities, family groups and day-trippers, as well as offering placements and work experience to aspiring biologists.

But she says the project's continuing success is down to the welcoming nature of the island.

She added: "This year has been our most exciting and successful yet and we are enormously grateful to the community of Cumbrae for their ongoing support.

"I'd also like to thank our visitors, the majority of who feel like old friends as they return each year.

"We have welcomed a whole range of people this year, most of whom say it has been one of the best experiences of their lives - they’ve loved every minute.

"There have been over 13,000 visitor at night to the centre and many more day visitors.

"People enjoy the friendly nightlife Millport has to offer whilst making full use of facilities at the centre to learn and study during the day.

"We continue to invest in the centre with the development of a new rock climbing wall, new facilities in the laboratories and significant developments in the aquarium and museum.

"Many of the visitors have been out in our research vessel, Actinia, to collect scientific samples or they go wildlife watching to see our dolphins and seals.

"People also make full use of the island facilities, hiring out bikes from the town and cycling round the island, so everyone reaps the benefits."

The recent Doors Open Day saw over 100 visitors to the museum and aquarium, many of whom took part in taster climbing wall sessions too.

The centre's Bioblitz event drew nature organisations and biologists from across Scotland to lead sessions focussing on identifying and recording wildlife on the island and in its waters.

Alex added: "Hopefully we can build on this and enjoy an even better 2020."