Highlands & Islands

Harbour seal numbers 'continue to fall' in Scotland

Harbour seal
Image caption Harbour seals have continued to be recorded on many parts of Scotland's coast

Numbers of harbour seals in Scotland have continued fall, according to a new report.

Fewer animals were counted on Scotland's east coast and in Orkney in surveys by St Andrews University Sea Mammal Research Unit.

But the work commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), found an increase in harbour seals on the west coast.

Between Cape Wrath and Ullapool, 1,095 animals were recorded.

In 2008, a survey counted 2,687.

Sightings of harbour seals, also known as common seals, have been declining for several years, with the latest research suggesting the trend is continuing.

Between Aberlady Bay in East Lothian, 213 were spotted compared with 459 seven years ago.

The unit did not have enough time to survey the coast from Aberlady Bay down to the Scottish Borders.

At the Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary Special Area of Conservation, 50 seals were counted - the lowest figure so far recorded in that area. Previously, 78 were seen.

In Orkney, the latest research recorded 1,865 compared with 2,687 in 2010.

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