A rescue operation was launched after two seals were stuck in litter – with both later managing to escape.
Ythan Seal Watch were contacted yesterday regarding the two animals, with one caught in a Tesco bag for life.
By the time the team, led by Lee Watson, made it to the beach, the seals had somehow managed to free themselves, but Lee was keen to stress how much worse it could have been.
He said: “We went to the area where the pictures showed the seal was and there was no sign of it – but we did find the bag one of them was stuck in.
“That’s a very good outcome in this situation.
“We try to minimise the service. We are allowed to disturb the seals for welfare reasons but we don’t like to do it because it can be stressful for them.”
It takes a group of people to restrain the seal, allowing them to safely cut it free from the entanglement.
Lee added: “It’s not a pleasant experience for them.”
Another of the seals was stuck in rope which had washed up on the beach.
Lee and the team believe the seal somehow managed to free itself from the bag.
Lee isn’t sure how the seal managed to wriggle free from the plastic, but is just happy it happened. Otherwise the ending could have been very different.
Lee said: “It’s a very long and drawn out, painful process which often results in death.
“The younger seals can get caught in things and continue growing, which cuts through their fur, their blubber and down to the bare flesh, which can become infected.
“They can also have issues with eating, which means they starve.”
Ythan Seal Watch regularly deal with seal entanglements, to the point where they have a photo album on social media of previous instances.
The blight of rubbish at the Ythan Estuary has led the Forvie Nature Reserve to announce an initiative to combat the problem.
Each visitor is asked to remove three pieces of litter in a bid to stop seals from the nearby colony getting entangled.
Part of the initiative is also to teach people not to approach the seals, which has caused stampedes by the animals in the past.