The Isle of May is celebrating the Seal Open Day on Sunday, 23 September, opening a new world for visitors used to coming to the island to see its seabirds.
Up to 100 grey seals can be seen around the island at any time of year, but their numbers increase in Autumn and Winter when up to 4,000 seals haul themselves onto the rocky shores of the island to have their pups and mate. This makes the Isle of May the fifth largest breeding colony of grey seals in the UK, and the largest on the east coast of Scotland. Around 2,000 pups are born on the May every year.
David Pickett, the Isle of May reserve manager, said:
"Visitors are usually drawn to the May to see the puffins, razorbills and all the other seabirds, but it's a terrific place to watch seals too. They're such curious and fascinating creatures it's certainly worth the trip out to see them. We'll also have an expert on hand to tell people more about the seals and all the seal research that happens on the May."
Weather permitting, the May Princess will take its usual route out to the island with one exception - the boat will stop at each end of the island on the way out and the way back for the chance to see seals, as well as hear from a seal expert. Once on the island, there will be telescopes set up with experts to answer questions. There will also be stories and songs about seals in the South Horn.
To reach the island, boats leave from Anstruther in Fife at 11.45am or North Berwick in East Lothian at 12noon and return at about 5pm. Places are limited, so advance booking is recommended. Normal charges apply to reach the island by boat, but access to the island is free.
Sailings are on the privately-run May Princess from the Anstruther Harbour or through the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick:
Anstruther - For tickets and details, see www.isleofmayferry.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org (Anstruther Pleasure Cruises/May Princess) or www.isleofmayboattrips.co.uk or contact Colin Murray on 07966 926 254 (Osprey of Anstruther).
North Berwick - For tickets and details, book online on the Scottish Seabird Centre website at www.seabird.org or call 01620 890 202.