A NEWBORN seal pup has been rescued by the Scottish SPCA after he fell helplessly into the sea in the Firth of Forth, close to where workmen are building the new road crossing.
The week old grey seal pup - the first to be rescued in Scotland this year by the leading animal welfare charity - is less than a week old and unable to swim.
An SSPCA spokeswoman explained: “The pup was spotted lying on rocks by men working on the new Forth Road crossing. As the men approached the pup he fell off the rocks and into the water.
Grey seal pups cannot swim well until they have lost all their fur so the workmen fished the pup out of the water and called the Scottish SPCA for help.”
An animal rescue officer took the seal to the charity’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre at Fishcross, Alloa, where he is now receiving treatment and care. Staff have named him Tiller.
Colin Seddon, the centre manager, said, “Tiller is our first grey seal pup of the season and he’s quite unusual in that he was found in an area that is not a known pupping ground.
“He could have been washed off the established pupping ground at nearby Inchkeith Island or his mother may have been young and inexperienced. It sounds as though he took fright when he was approached and slid off the rocks and into the water which is bad news for a newborn seal pup as their thick fur coats act like a sponge and absorb water so he’s unlikely to have survived on his own for long.”
He continued: “Thankfully, the men scooped him out of the sea and called us for help. Tiller arrived weighing a healthy 13.5kg for a newborn pup and he’s continued to make good progress in our care. Normally the weight would dip but Tiller has remained steady and has even put on a few pounds recently so we’re feeling positive about his rehabilitation.
“He’s being tube-fed fish soup at the moment and that will continue for the next few weeks until he’s old enough and strong enough to feed himself. He’s currently our only grey seal pup but we’ve no doubt he’ll be joined by many more in the coming weeks and months.”
He urged members of the public to contact the charity’s animal helpline if they see a distressed seal pup lying on the shore this winter. And he warned that they could be doing more harm than good by approaching or picking up a stranded pup.
Said Mr Seddon: “We often receive seal pups that are healthy but have been abandoned by their mothers because someone has disturbed them. The mother seal will leave her pup on land while she is out hunting in the water so it’s quite natural to see seal pups lying on the shore line for several hours at a time.
“Our message to the public is, if you see a seal pup and you are concerned for it’s welfare then call our animal helpline for advice or assistance on 03000 999 999 before approaching it.”
Tiller will be cared for at the Scottish SPCA’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre until he is fully fit, feeding himself and at the right weight to be released.