Environment / Rare seal row leads to fine

MAN who got into an early hours row after trying to pet a rare bearded seal that had taken up residence in Lerwick harbour has beenfined at the town’s sheriff court.

Bearded seal
The bearded seal Photo: David Spence

Karl Tulloch, 61, of Sandveien, Lerwick, admitted behaving a threatening and abusive manner on 19 May at Victoria Pier.

Procurator Fiscal Duncan Mackenzie told the court on Wednesday that Tulloch had approached the arctic bearded seal at 3.40am “which had taken up residence at the locus” and tried to touch the animal.


A taxi driver intervened and Tulloch rounded on him shouting and swearing. Police were called and Tulloch continued to shout and swear, make “juvenile threats” and ignored instructions to move away from the animal.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said that Tulloch had taken drink to help him sleep and overcome cronic pain and cramps, but in the midst of an early morning stroll, he had seen the animal, which appeared to nursing injuries, sitting on a harbourside ramp.

Tulloch, he said, had always been interested in animals and had been minded of an incident in his youth when he had tried to help a seal and wanted to see if he could help the bearded one.

The taxi driver had told him to leave the seal alone “in fairly robust terms” and this had led to Tulloch’s outburst.

The unemployed joiner wanted to apologise to the attending police officers, said Allan, as his aggression had not been directed towards them, but to the taxi driver.

Afterwards, he was taken to hospital because he was in so much pain.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank told Tulloch that “no matter how honourable your intentions – it is better to stay away from arctic bearded seals in future”.

The sheriff fined Tulloch £240 for his threatening and abusive nature.