Watching the Ythan seals without disturbing them

20 December 2018

NatureScot is reminding people not to get too close to seals on the Ythan at Forvie National Nature Reserve.

Annabel Drysdale, NatureScot’s Forvie nature reserve manager, said:

“If you fancy a beach walk at Forvie over Christmas, please go to the beach at Newburgh on the south side of the estuary to view seals. From there, you can enjoy the best views and won’t risk disturbing them while they haul out.

“We all love to watch wildlife, but we also need to protect it. If you come across seals on the beach, stay at least 150 metres away and if one or two heads come up, that means you’re close enough.”

“Young seals are now beginning to appear all around on Scotland’s coast and while they learn to feed themselves it’s important to let them rest as much as possible.

Seals on the beach at Forvie National Nature Reserve.

Here are a few more tips to watch seals safely and responsibly:

  • When watching seals on the beach, be quiet, avoid sudden movements and be responsive to their behaviour. Back off if it looks like the seals may enter the water.
  • Be especially cautious if there are pups present; seals can move surprisingly quickly and they may bite if they feel threatened. Never separate pups from mothers, as females can be particularly aggressive when they have young. Leave lone pups alone: the mother may only be away foraging for food and if you approach or touch the pup while she is gone she may abandon it on her return. 
  • Don’t crowd or encircle seals. If you are in a group, keep the whole group to one side of the animal, preferably the landward side, so that the animal still has access to the water.