Visitors asked to follow guidance to help protect seal pups

24 November 2023

Visitors to NatureScot’s Forvie National Nature Reserve (NNR) are being asked to help protect vulnerable seal pups by following guidance to avoid disturbance.

The north-east reserve, which covers almost 1,000 hectares of sand dunes between the North Sea and the estuary of the River Ythan, is home to Scotland's largest seal haul out at the mouth of the river.

During November and December the seals may have pups which are particularly vulnerable to disturbance.

Signs have been erected asking visitors to stay on the reserve’s Dune Trail during this sensitive period. People who would like to see the seals and pups are also encouraged to view the colony from a safe distance on the south side of the river at Newburgh.

Forvie NNR reserve manager Cat Reid said: “We’re reminding visitors that it is vitally important that seals are not disturbed at the reserve, especially during November and December when they may have pups. Pups may be abandoned by their mothers or crushed as seals stampede into the water to escape from people.

“We’ve put up additional signs at the reserve car park and on site and are asking visitors to stay on the Dune Trail, marked blue on the reserve leaflet, to avoid any disturbance.

“For those who would like to see the seals, the safest and best place to try and spot a pup is on the south side of the River Ythan from the Beach Road car park in Newburgh. So far, the pups here seem to be doing well and people following the guidance will continue to help them do so. We’d like to thank visitors for their help in keeping the seals safe.”

As a designated seal haul-out site, it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly harass a seal at Forvie. If anyone thinks they have witnessed a wildlife crime on the reserve, they should contact Police Scotland on 101.