The survival rates of breeding adult Great Skuas Catharacta skua were examined at Foula, the largest colony in the world, where numbers have been declining since the late 1970s. Resightings of colour-ringed breeding adults over a 12-year period were analysed using Cormack-Jolly Seber models to estimate survival rates. Annual survival rates averaged 0.89 but varied among years between 0.82 and 0.93, with annual variations being temporally associated with variations in sandeel abundance during the breeding season. Most birds appeared to die outside the breeding season and so it is possible that nutritional stress and reproductive costs of breeding in years of poor food supply affect survivorship on migration or in the wintering range. Survival rates of adult Great Skuas were affected by their age according to a quadratic equation, with survival increasing significantly with age from 0.73 in 5-year-old-birds to between 0.85 and 0.96 in birds from 7 to 22 years old, with a sharp decline to between 0.75 and 0.87 in birds over 22 years old. Year effects were evident when controlling for age, indicating that annual variations in survival rates are not explained by changes in age-composition of the marked population among years.