A RECORD 177 seals were cared for in Fishcross over the past year by the Scottish SPCA.

The animal welfare charity's National Wildlife Rescue Centre in the village has seen an increase in numbers over 2017 with the figures expected to go up again this year.

Colin Seddon, centre manager, said: “It is extremely rare for us to have a seal brought into our care who doesn’t require some treatment.

“If you can get close to a seal then it is most likely injured or in trouble, however we urge the public not to approach them without giving our animal helpline a call first.”

People should be careful when approaching a seal pup on its own, with Colin explaining: “A mother seal will leave her pup on land while she is out feeding because it cannot swim very well until it has lost all of its white fur, which happens at around three to four weeks of age.

“If her pup is touched or moved then there is a good chance she will abandon it.

“You should call our animal helpline immediately if you spot a seal pup as it might need urgent care.

“Please do not approach seal pups and keep dogs on a lead in case they frighten them into the water or even cause injury.”

One of the many seals cared for at the centre was grey seal Snow White, who arrived in November after a member of the public noticed her “looking very distressed” in Fraserburgh.

Colin added: “When she arrived at our centre she was dehydrated and her temperature was a little low.

“We’ll make sure she gets plenty of hydration before starting her on some fish soup, then moving on to solids.

“Each seal who came into our care last year carried a Disney, Pixar or Dreamworks name, and we were able to release many back into the wild following their rehabilitation.”

Those keen to see more can follow #SSPCASealSquad on social media.

Anyone who discovers an injured or distressed wild animal should call the animal helpline on 03000 999 999.