Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Water scooters 'being driven at seals' in Fife

A female grey seal breaks the surface of the water Image copyright AFP
Image caption Both grey and common seals can be seen at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve

Water scooters have been deliberately driven at seals at a beach in Tentsmuir, Fife, police have said.

Police and Scottish Natural Heritage have received reports of the animals being targeted at Abertay Sands.

Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve is one of the few places on the east coast of Scotland where you can see both grey and common seals.

Common seals produce their pups from late May to July. Grey seals produce their pups from September to December.

Experts said at these times seal pups may not be ready to swim until they have built up a blubber layer, and adult seals are more sensitive and reluctant to enter the water.

The officials said people encroaching on areas where seals are pregnant or pupping is threatening for the seals.

Special Scientific Interest

Abertay Sands is part of the Tayport-Tentsmuir coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

One of the protected features of the SSSI is the common or harbour seals, which are in decline with "some of the main pressures contributing to their decline being recreation and dog walking".

Tom Cunningham, SNH's Tenstmuir national nature reserve manager, said: "These jet skiers cause massive disturbance to the seals and also upset the visitors who witness these incidents.

"We'd ask jet skiers to behave within the wildlife watching code and be aware that they could be causing seals distress and endangering them at this sensitive time of year."

Lindsay Kerr, of Police Scotland, said: "I have had complaints about jet skiers deliberately disturbing seals at Abertay Point, Tenstmuir.

"I want to make it clear that anyone targeting seals is committing a crime and will be prosecuted.

"The seal population along with all the other wildlife in the protected SSSI is incredibly important."

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