A bearded seal normally found in the Arctic Ocean stunned visitors to the Shetland Islands after making a rare visit on one of the hottest days of the year.
The young female was first spotted in Lerwick on Friday morning and seemed to be enjoying the sunshine as it basked on the slipway of the town’s harbour.
The sighting of the bewhiskered mammal is one of just a handful to be recorded in the islands and the first to grace its shores in about two years.
As the crowds gathered, the port authority cordoned off the slipway to stop enthusiastic admirers from getting too close to the special visitor.
Wildlife photographer Baz Scampion was visiting the area to see orcas when he heard about the unexpected arrival.
He said: “It’s an amazing looking thing. Its whiskers are just enormous.
“It was one of the hottest days they’ve had in Shetland in May for a long time so she must have been quite warm.”
Pictures show the seal, which has grey fur with black patches on its flippers and body, resting on the concrete ramp just by the water.
In one close-up, its long white whiskers can be seen glistening in the spring sunlight.
At about four feet long, it is believed to be young as adults can grow up to three metres long and weigh 450kg.
Rebecca Nason went to see the animal after a local taxi driver posted a picture of it on social media.
She said: “It could have been born last year. It’s certainly a young one.”
Rebecca, who runs Shetland Seabird Tours, added: “We run boat trips from there but we couldn’t use the slipway so I just stood on the pier and took some video.”
The video shows the seal, which doesn’t appear to be afraid of humans, seemingly relaxed as the water laps against the harbour wall.
Rebecca added: “It tends to head off in the evenings but then comes back. It was still there this morning [mon].
“It’s extremely rare to see here so even for people who aren’t usually interested in wildlife it was hard not to get swept away by the excitement.”
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