Highlands & Islands

Plea to leave 'abandoned' seal pups alone

Grey seal pup Image copyright PA

Well-meaning members of the public have been urged not to attempt to rescue what they wrongly believe to be abandoned seal pups.

The Sea Life Sanctuary in Oban said seal pups were being brought to them for care when they probably did not need to be rescued.

And it has been told of people trying to put the pups back into the water themselves.

It said seal pups are left behind when their mother goes out to sea to hunt.

But once a pup is separated from its mother and comes into contact with humans it cannot be returned.

The sanctuary said it had rescued 10 seal pups in the past week when it normally rescues only about four a year.

'Monitored from a distance'

A spokeswoman said: "We are incredibly grateful to members of the public for alerting us to any seal pups they find that they feel may be abandoned or in difficulty.

"However we would like to stress that unless a pup is visibly injured or unwell it should always be monitored from a distance for 24 hours before action is taken.

"Seals quite often haul out on stretches of beach or rocky areas for a rest, so just because a seal is on the land does not mean it is unwell or in distress."

Sanctuary visitor numbers are up 29% compared with this time last year, and staff are concerned that the rise in tourism combined with the lack of knowledge about seal behaviour may be a reason for the increase in unnecessary "rescues".

If people come across a seal pup on land that are advised to keep their distance and not to attempt to handle the pup or put it back into the sea.

But the Sea Life Sanctuary or SSPCA should be notified if the pup looks thin, injured or seems unwell.