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Bearded seal takes up residence in Lerwick

A LOCAL wildlife charity is warning people to keep their distance from an Arctic bearded seal which appeared at Lerwick’s Victoria Pier on Friday morning.

The young female, which does not seem to be afraid of people, has been seen on and off the slip at the small boat harbour since 6am.

Bearded seals belong to the Artic Ocean but are occasionally seen as far south as Shetland. Two years ago a bearded seal chose to spend the whole summer at Mid Yell.

Pete Bevington of Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary said the animal appeared to be in good shape. At about four feet length she is far from being fully grown.

Lerwick Port Authority, meanwhile, has put up a line of cones near the slipway to prevent people from getting too close to the animal.

Bevington said: “She couldn’t have chosen a more prominent public place than Victoria Pier to turn up.”

While the seal appears to be completely relaxed as it basks in the sun, Bevington advised not to get too close to the animal.

“It is fine to have a look from the distance, but please don’t go up too close,” he said.

Apart from that there was not much anyone could do about the seal turning up in the town centre, he said.

“We will be keeping an eye on her,” Bevington added, “but I am slightly concerned as to what will happen later since it is Friday night.”