A RECORD number of seal pups has been recorded by National Trust for Scotland rangers at St Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve during the breeding season.
A total of 1,806 pups has been counted at the east coast reserve and shows an explosion in the population, with no seals recorded on the beaches as recently as 2007.
Grey seals breed on the nature reserve from October to December and the conservation charity is now keen to carry out further studies and determine the exact reason for the rapid rise.
Ciaran Hatsell, head ranger at St Abb’s Head, said: “It really is an incredible story.
“I have worked in wildlife for some time and have been studying seal colonies for the past ten years and I’m amazed by how this population has risen.
“Grey seals are one of the rarest seals in the world – there’s a global population of roughly 300,000 and in the UK we have around 45% of that.
“To have this rise here is very special and I feel very privileged to be able to count and work with these animals.”
Hatsell added: “If you go back to 2007, there was no colony here at all and the population is still growing, which shows that the ecosystem is healthy and that they have plenty of food in the area.
“It’s hard to draw conclusions about the sudden rise without the science or data behind it, but we can suggest it’s down to lack of disturbance or that the seals have come from another North Sea colony that has reached capacity. There is so much that we still have to learn and, in many ways, that’s quite refreshing.”
Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.