As part of the UK government’s objective to deliver an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources, West Mainland, Orkney, is at the forefront of the development of wave-energy extraction devices. Exposure to wave energy plays a dominant role in shaping the Orkney landscape and determining the ecological community, but little is known of the consequences of commercial scale removal of energy from the environment. An extensive long-term monitoring programme to assess the impacts of altering wave-energy exposure on these rocky shores alongside responses to other systemic forcing agents such as climate change is continuing. Within the programme are photographic surveys, including quadrat and fixed viewpoint techniques, littoral studies of sentinel species, and the development of cost-effective wave-energy quantifying devices. Software has been developed to analyse images efficiently, to produce quantitative data on species and biotope coverage. Additionally, extensive surveys along the shoreline provide detailed image records, including areas without prior scientific description, and have helped identify locations of environmental sensitivity. Collectively, the data provide a comprehensive pre-development baseline along this important coast.