NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Experts sceptical over cause of seal pups deaths in Orkney

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Media captionA colony of common seal pups was found dead in Orkney

Experts have given a sceptical response to claims that dolphins may have been responsible for the death of a colony of common seal pups in Orkney.

A total of 17 dead animals were found on the shoreline around the Bay of Firth shortly after a pod of dolphins was seen in the area.

Cllr Owen Teirney, who found the pups, said he believed the deaths were linked to the appearance of the dolphins.

An expert described video evidence of the dead pups as "inconclusive".

And the bodies are now too decomposed for a definitive post mortem to be carried out.

The carcass of one dolphin was found next to two of the dead seal pups, leading to speculation it may have become stranded while following the animals into shallow water.

Further investigation

Cllr Teirney said with so many properties around the bay it was unlikely that any other large predators were in the area without being spotted, and believes the dolphins are to blame.

He said: "It does look as though the dolphins, on the days they were here, spent a lot of that time desecrating the seal pup population in the bay."

However, Dr Andrew Brownlow, a veterinary investigations officer at the Scottish Agricultural College in Inverness, remains less convinced.

He says the deaths could have resulted from a wide range of other, more common causes.

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