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Seals In Thurso

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Seals Back In Thurso 11 November
The seals were not put off in any way by the Remembrance Sunday parade at the British Legion Club opposite.



Three Month Seal Study 18 April 2002
A study of the seals is underway.  Alan Knight of International Animal Rescue and Dr Sue Wilson a freelance consultant at Belfast based seal research centre started the survey but it will be carried on by volunteers .  Anyone interested in helping should phone Jenny Paterson  of Scrabster on 01847 890030 who is co-ordinating the survey.

Seals Will Not Be Shot
23 March 2002
With at least two petitions supporting the "Leave The Seals Alone Camp" and a rising tide of spotlights n the problem on national TV and many local and national newspapers our local MP and owner of the river John Thurso has announced that the seals will definitely not be killed.
He said in an article in Firday's John O'Groat Journal that alternative methods  would be used including the inflatable killer whale idea.
And believe it or now there is already an inflatable whale in the county. The Far North branch of British Divers Marine Life Rescue already has one and has offered the use of the inflatable whale. It is used for training purposes and in addition they have the underwater sound equipment that simulates whale noises.
John Thurso has acknowledged that the river superintendent has done a good job considering all the attention and amusement it has caused. And it has raised the profile of Thurso. So hopefully a happy outcome will improve it even further.
and with this story having a long way to go yet for merriment and general interest the site of a blow up killer whale on the river is sure to be a big crowd puller.
If the seals take to it rather than being scared off then the skies the limit for setting up stalls selling fish to feed the seals, peanuts for the birds etc etc. Not sure what the wild life people will think of that but bet the seals will not say no to a free lunch.
So the whale may be anchored at the river mouth over the weekend. If we get a picture it will be on the front page.
Is the end of this story coming. We shall see .......................

Caithness Girl Michelle Davies Starts Petition To Ensure Safety Of Thurso Seals
21 March
Michelle Davies fears that the seals will eventually be killed and wants to make sure that everyone has a chance to voice their opinion on the topic.  She has started to collect signatures on a petition now circulating in Castletown and Thurso.
"This petition is directed to our local MP, John Thurso. It concerns the future of the seal colony that has come to rest in Thurso River.  Please sign below if you feel that killing the seals is not the right way to go about things. By signing this you are showing your support in conserving the wildlife of Thurso River"
Michelle hope to prevent the final solution being applied to the seals before other measures are adopted and she hopes that the seals can be allowed to stay.  if this is not possible she hopes that other methods can be tried to encourage them to take up residence away from the entrance to the Thurso river and its valuable salmon angling.

Seals Still Trying To Land 19 March 2002

Seals Hit National TV News
18 March 2002
The seals in Thurso became the focus of national attention today in an item on the BBC lunchtime news.  The river superintendant said he was "at his wits end" as to know what to try next to move them on from the island home they have set up.  Despite their popularity with Thurso folk and visitors in the last few months the final solution of shooting them is apparently coming closer.  Check BBC1 News tonight for repeat of the item.

Next Tactic  - Bring On The Scarecrows 12 March 2002
The men were putting up those first two scarecrows, while the seals had taken up residence on the other island. Eventually they put up a scarecrow on the second island as well. While taking pictures an otter came up, and expressed his disgust at taking pictures of the seals and not him and his mates!  Is this the

Seals  Defy Everything To Move Them 1 March 2002

Jetski scaring the seals?????? - well it didn't work they were pretty soon back on their 'island'! Some have mastered getting up on the narrow ledge between the water and the fence - other cleverer ones can get under the fence at the low channel you can see in the island. They were swimming in and out all morning!

Jet Ski - Making Waves for the Seals  28 February 2002
A Jet Ski was doing its stuff today near seal island in the River Thurso.  As the Jet ski wove back and forwards roaring between the arches of the bridge there was plenty of noise and water action.

Was this the next tactic to try to move the seals away or just a water enthusiast out for some fun.





Controversy Over Fence To Keep Seals Off Island On Thurso River 16 February 2002
A crowd gathered on the Bridge over the Thurso river on Saturday 16 February to see the problem for the seals on the one hand after the erection of a fence by the river Superintendant to try to keep the seals away from the island they took took up residence on a few months ago.  Onlookers were afraid that the seals might get over the fence today at high tide and be trapped on the island as the water recedes.  There are gaps in the fence to allow escape but the seals but onlookers feared the seals may merely try to get through the fence and injure themselves.  the river workers face a problem in that the seals have taken up positions over the day at the entrance to the river and feed on the salmon coming back to lay their eggs.  The main problem for the fishing on the river is that the seals will wipe out the salmon.
The problem has been seen from both sides in the letters page of the John O'Groat Journal with river workers and the superintendant on one side and animal lovers on the other. All attempts to scare the seals away to sea have failed so far as they continue to return to what they obviously find an excellent home base just when the fish are returning to spawn.  River workers and fishermen fear that liveliehoods and sporting tourism is at stake.  Following a bad start last year when Foot and Mouth regulations enforced restrictions on the sport especially early in the year there could be something of a backs to the wall problem for the people who depend on the river to make a living.  Unless the authorities take over shortly and do something to humanely move the seals back out to sea to find a new place to feed the polarisation evident in the local community will continue to build. 

If this latest attempt to get the seals to move on fails the river staff may have to resort to shooting the seals.  High tide today will probably show if the fence has any chance of success at persuading the seals.  Unfortunately there are other possibilities nearby for the seals who may take the easiest route and choose another bit of embankment or shore nearby.

October 2001
Paul Cannop caught this group of seals on the Thurso river opposite the British Legion Club.  So next time you are walking near the river in Thurso keep your eyes open.

Picture - Paul Cannop