The four-month-old seal pup was rescued from a beach in Hornsea this weekend after witnesses reported shocking behaviour by a group of adults and children. Visitors to the beach saw members of the group trying to drag the animal into the sea by its hind flippers, throwing stones at it and allowing their dogs to bother the creature.
The tiny stricken pup, weighing in at just 20kg, was harassed for some time by the group, with the loose dogs posing a danger to its safety.
A group of sea swimmers noticed the incident and formed a protective cordon around the seal until help arrived, the Yorkshire Post reported.
It was eventually collected by a volunteer from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue and taken for recuperative treatment.
Emily Mayman, emergency coordinator for the charity, said: “She’s entirely on her own now, as their mothers are only with them for 4-5 weeks at most during the winter, and then they learn how to feed themselves.
“She’s also starting her annual moult, which means she needs to be able to haul out undisturbed.
“Sadly, she was pelted in the face and suffered some minor bruising to the side of her head and eye.
“The area team responded, and medic Tony Mayman attended to assess her.
“Due to the high amount of disturbance, she was uplifted to get her away from the public who would just not leave her alone.
“Thankfully, a local swimming group had seen what had happened, and cordoned off the seal until Tony arrived to prevent her from being harassed or injured further.”
The seal was taken from the beach for an assessment with the vet.
She was then treated for her wounds and fed before being released back into the wild the next day.
Ms Mayman said: “She was uplifted for assessment by a vet and after some treatment and feeding, the poor exhausted pup had caught up on sleep and was in good form for release the next day. She happily returned to the water.”
The Wildlife charity said it had received a number of calls over the Easter weekend reporting seals being harassed or chased by members of the public and dogs.
Ms Mayman said several callers had reported seals in the Yorkshire area being chased by dogs off the lead and pestered by people, including one member of the public who was bitten after trying to pick a seal up.
She urged the public to keep a distance between themselves and seals and keep dogs under control so as not to disturb or harm the animals.
She said: “We ask the public to please keep a huge distance between themselves and seals.
“Keep dogs on the lead, especially if you’re not sure of your dog’s recall.
“Keep children away and don’t allow them to approach or throw things at seals.
“Don’t attempt to get down to a haul out area and avoid them to prevent them from becoming stressed. They will often vocalise when worried.
“Seals haul out on the beach for long periods of time to sleep and rest, and do not need to be in the water to breathe or live. They only use the ocean for feeding and relocation.
“They will often lie on their side and sleep hiding a flipper. If you keep your distance, you will often see their fantastic behaviour start to shine.”