IT’S a rescue effort that will leave you blubbering. An operation is under way to free a trapped seal and her pup from a sea water intake at Cockenzie Power Station.
The pair breached the sea defences and got stuck in a 20sqm water chamber at the power plant by the Firth of Forth.
Staff were carrying out a routine inspection when they spotted the two grey seals swimming in the tank, which reaches depths of 80ft.
They alerted the Scottish SPCA who sent rescue officers yesterday to try to get them out and return them to the sea.
It is thought the recent heavy rain, high tides and strong winds have all played a part in their unexpected arrival – only the third such incident in 50 years.
A Scottish Power spokesman said the power plant, which turns sea water to steam to power its turbines, had measures to stop marine animals getting in.
He said: “We have natural defences in place to stop this happening but there have been very high tides and we think that must be how this has happened.
“It is exceptionally rare for a seal to breach the sea defences as we have various screens in place, including one for larger marine animals, and then the filters get smaller and smaller to ensure the water is clear.
“The seals seem quite happy in there. We’ve been helping to build a platform out of wooden pallets in the water to give them something to climb on to which they seem quite interested in.
“We’re hoping to lift them out once they’ve got on that. We’re working hard with the SSPCA and doing everything we can to ensure the safe return of the seals to the Firth of Forth as quickly as possible.”
The Firth of Forth is a known breeding site for the animals which travel long distances to give birth. Adult females weigh up to 180kg and grow to about 180cm long and feed on a diet of fish.
Scottish SPCA Animal Rescue Officer Amy Dow said both animals seemed to be in good health and were being well looked after while rescue efforts were ongoing.
She said: “Both seals appear to be in good health and they are being fed regularly. There is plenty of sea water for them and they have been provided with a resting place out of the water.
“If they require any treatment, we will take them to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Clackmannanshire for care.”
The rescue mission is expected to continue today.