Last summer the RSPCA rescued a number of Harbour seal pups, stranded on Wardie Bay beach after they had become separated from their mothers. Harbour seals (so called because they will follow schools of fish into harbours) are under threat both from humans and Scotland’s other native seal, the Grey. Grey seals are bigger and stronger and have been taking over the traditional ‘haul out’ areas of isolated rocks and beaches to rest, nurse pups and moult forcing the smaller and more timid Harbour seal onto public beaches. Since the 1990’s there has been a 40% decline in their numbers. I had no idea they were so endangered. Since the start of the Covid pandemic, there has been a huge rise in human activity on the beaches of the Forth. In early 2021 two pontoons were refurbished as designated haul out spaces for Harbour seals visiting Granton Harbour, they were occupied within a day. Harbour seals are curious animals and can appear friendly with their big soulful eyes but they are easily frightened and spooked with mothers abandoning their pups if humans or dogs get too close as, perhaps, happened last summer during pupping season.
My Harbour seal sculpture is papier-mâché white tissue modelled around plastic rubbish washed up on Wardie Bay beach. I left the seals unpainted to represent the ghosts of Harbour seals who have died as a result of recent negative changes in their environment. They are appealing to us to help them…but not get too close!