Members of the public are being urged to avoid a well-loved coastal path due to large numbers of “aggressive” breeding seals.
An estimated 3,000 grey seals have taken over the north beach at the Ythan Estuary on the Forvie Nature Reserve, near Newburgh.
The mammals, which can be seen at Forvie sands, have been a magnet for wildlife lovers.
Marine Scotland held a public consultation into declaring the area a designated seal haul-out zone in 2015 and found there were grounds for considering the application ahead of the five-year review due in 2019.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue medic and Ythan seal watch founder Lee Watson gives up his weekends to patrol the area to provide guidance and information to visitors. He said: “At the moment we have got some large bulls hauling-out. They are very large and aggressive and have been causing some significant injuries to other seals at the site.
“We can’t begin to imagine what they could do to a pet or a child if they were to disturb them.
“We would urge people to stay as far away from them as possible and be extra careful when walking dogs; they should be kept on a lead at all times.”