Can our seal pups weather the storm?

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As stormy weather continues wildlife groups are keeping a close eye on how seal pups native to the east Fife coast are faring.

On Monday evening of last week an inspector for the SSPCA responded to concerns of St Monans residents who had spotted a seal pup lying on the harbour slip.

A spokeswoman for the SSPCA said: “The seal looked healthy and our inspector was able to encourage it back into the water.

“It was probably the first time the seal had swum in open ocean since leaving its mother and it may have come ashore to rest.”

But not all pups have been so lucky this winter.

The SSPCA has reported a 50 per cent increase in the number of seals it rescued compared to the same time last year.

Its Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fife is currently home to around 20 juvenile seals.

Though the exact causes for the increase are unclear the SSPCA said several of the rescued pups had been washed offshore by strong conditions and arrived with injuries from being bashed against rocks.

The nearby Isle of May Nature Reserve off the coast of Anstruther is a popular birthing ground for grey seals and has been hit by recent storms but reserve manager David Pickett says the impact of the weather remains uncertain.

He said: “The team of researchers who had been studying grey seals left a few days earlier than planned because they knew the storm was coming and our remote control cameras, which would usually give us a view of the beach, have broken down so we don’t really know what’s happened on the island.

“The seals generally keep tucked away but some of the pups born later in the season are less able to move around and could be vulnerable to big waves caused by the stormy weather.”

Mr Picket said a team would travel to the Isle of May over the next few weeks to assess the impact of recent stormy weather on the island and its wildlife.