Jet skiers have been deliberately driving at seals on the Abertay Sands, Tentsmuir in north-east Fife, according to recent reports to the police and Scottish Natural Heritage, who manage the area as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve is an important place for wildlife, and 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, while grey seals produce their pups from September to December. At these times seal pups may not be ready to swim until they have built up a suitable blubber layer, and adult seals are more sensitive and reluctant to enter the water.
People encroaching on areas where seals haul up when they are pregnant or pupping is threatening for the seals.
The Scottish marine wildlife watching code asks anyone coming upon animals while on the water to reduce their speed to the minimum consistent with safety, make sure their movements are steady and predictable, and not to approach animals directly.
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 unfavourable declining condition with some of the main pressures contributing to their decline being recreation and dog walking.
SNH’s Tenstmuir national nature reserve manager, Tom Cunningham, 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.”
Fife police division’s Wildlife & Environmental Crime Coordinator, Constable Lindsay Kerr 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
“I work closely with the SNH and agree with Tom Cunningham’s comments. The seal population along with all the other wildlife in the protected SSSI is incredibly important.
“I would recommend that anyone involved in jet skiing around Tentsmuir is careful and familiarises themselves with all SSSI’s and the wildlife watching code.
“I want to encourage the public to enjoy the beautiful coastline around Fife but ask everyone to act responsibly and be aware of the possible impact of their activities in relation to wildlife and the environment.”