A SEAL pup trapped in discarded fishing nets was saved from certain death after it was discovered by chance on a remote Scottish beach.
The terrified youngster was stuck fast in the net and would have been drowned within a few hours by the rising tide.
In an amazing stroke of luck, the pup was found by a local taking a festive season walk with his dogs on a tidal sand bank between the islands of Colonsay and Oransay.
David Johnston said: “The seal was very distressed and grumpy when I found it.
“I took the dogs back to the car and, with the help of the local oyster man, managed to cut the seal free.
“It appeared unharmed and made a dash for the sea. It was in a very remote part of the Hebrides and with the incoming tide it would have definitely drowned if we hadn’t found it.
“It was completely and utterly ensnared and immobilised in the net.”
He added: “The net had been there a while and it was massive. When local folk heard what had happened they came down and cut the rest of the net away to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.”
Wildlife conservation societies have expressed their growing concern for abandoned items on Britain’s beaches.
In January last year another grey seal was found caught in a fishing net in the Forvie National Nature Reserve in Aberdeenshire.
The net was tangled tightly around the animal’s neck. Scottish SPCA officers were able to cut the seal free and it returned to the sea.
Richard Harrington, a spokesman for the Marine Conservation Society said: “Sadly this happens all too often. Our seals are regularly found entangled in fishing nets, plastic packaging materials and angling lines.
“We receive several calls a year from people who have found seals in these situations. People need to realise the consequences of littering and leaving things on beaches.
“We always suggest that people get in touch with the SSPCA when dealing with live animals like this.”
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “We are glad to hear that this seal was rescued by kind members of the public.
“Last year we were involved in an incident where a seal was found on the shore with a net tangled around its neck.
“Thankfully we were able to cut the net away and return the seal to the water unharmed.
“When a seal becomes trapped in a net which digs into the skin it can lead to septicaemia or other infections, as well as drowning, so both of these seals are lucky to have survived.
“Anyone who finds a wild animal in distress can call our helpline on 03000 999 999.”