A SEAL pup almost drowned after it became trapped in rubbish lying on the beach at Pilgrim’s Haven on the Isle of May nature reserve.
The seal pup, named Houdini by Scottish Seabird Centre staff, was trapped for around an hour. Its concerned mother stayed by its side throughout, even as the waves crashed in around them both.
The seal pup managed to escape however it is now not known if it is still alive.
Following this, a young seal pup was seen dead next to the rubbish, the Centre said.
Footage of the pup was seen live 10 miles away on the Seabird Centre’s interactive live cameras.
Paul Nixon, Discovery Centre Manager, said: “The scene was incredibly distressing for our visitors, staff and volunteers as we all watched, willing the pup to escape from drowning. People around the world also watched the drama live on the Seabird Centre website.
“While seals may look cute they can be extremely vicious animals who will fight to protect their young: this makes human contact nearly impossible.
“Visitors to the Centre will see there is rubbish washed up on the Isle of May shore which is extremely difficult to get to and it poses a threat to the seals there. Litter and rubbish are a real problem – on our cameras we even see gannets on the Bass Rock lining their nests with plastic bags.
“Every year, marine litter kills thousands of marine mammals and seabirds around the world. Litter often ends up around our coast or in the sea and we appeal to everyone to respect Scotland’s seas and help our wildlife by disposing of rubbish properly and recycling wherever possible.”
David Pickett, Scottish Natural Heritage’s Isle of May Reserve Manager, said: “During the visitor season myself, other members of staff and volunteers spend a lot of time removing rubbish from the island’s beaches.
“This year we must have cleared, literally, about a ton of discarded waste and just before we left for the winter we had cleared the beaches so it is disappointing to see this happen.
“Throughout October the Isle of May is home to around 3,000 seals, making it the largest grey seal colony on the east coast of Britain. We deliberately have no Firth of Forth boat trips to ensure the animals are not disturbed, but unfortunately incidents like this are not isolated. Marine pollution is a major issue and a real threat to all sorts of wildlife. We would urge everyone to work with us and make a stand.”