Tourists are feared to be putting the lives of seal pups at risk by attempting to ferry them into the water – contrary to their natural instinct.
The problem is said to have occurred repeatedly on the isles of Lewis and Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, with visitors determined to snap selfies with the pups.
Concerns have also been raised over litter including cans and disposable barbecues posing a risk to baby seals.
In an online post, marine conservationists British Divers Marine Life Rescue Outer Hebrides explained how the attempts to get pups into the water put their lives at risk by separating them from their mothers.
Area co-ordinator Sara Wood-Kwasniewska said: “We are receiving multiple reports of the public finding seal pups (which have been checked) on and around the beaches in both Lewis and Harris and then attempting to ferry them back into the water. Please do not do this.
“Our young seal pups do not spend all there time in the sea as some think, and if the pup is not weaned from its mother they won’t be in the sea at all.
“We do have some unweaned common seal pups at this time.
“Although called common they are actually less common than the grey seal and are the smaller of the two species and have declining numbers.
“Please keep a good distance away from our marine life of at least 50 meters, this and people also seen to be taking selfies with the pups is causing them great distress and they will bite.
“More importantly it will also cause loss of contact with its mother and will seriously affect its chance of survival.
“This is not acceptable. Dogs must be kept on leads.”
She continued: “Whilst we want people to enjoy their holiday on our beautiful islands, please respect our unique eco system and our marine life.
“Please also ensure you take all litter home as plastics, such as bottles and carrier bags as they are a huge threat here, along with barbecue trays and beer cans and there plastic rings are also being left behind.
“We also ask the public to report to us or the SSPCA any of this unwanted behaviour and if the kind few see a piece of litter we’d be extremely grateful if you’d kindly remove it and place in a bin.”
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