A NEWBORN seal pup was saved from drowning by workmen constructing the new Forth Crossing, after slipping off rocks near the bridge site.
The tiny pup, which is less than a week old and was on its own, had to be saved by the workers after falling into the sea at North Queensferry.
New born seal pups are unable to swim due to their thick fur coats.
The male grey seal 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.
Animal welfare officers said that if the workmen hadn’t pulled him out he would have drowned.
Animal rescue officer Joanna McDaid 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.
Centre manager Colin Seddon 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.
“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.”
The Scottish SPCA is now urging members of the public to contact its animal helpline if they see a distressed seal pup lying on the shore this winter, adding that they could be doing more harm than good by approaching or picking it up.
Colin added: “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.