Bearded Seal in Baltasound

Posted by Brydon Thomason on Wednesday 6th April 2011 | Sea Mammals in Shetland

Only a year since Shetland’s last visit from this majestic Arctic sea mammal (read our news post on last year’s Bearded Seal), this beautiful beast was discovered in Baltasound on Unst. It was only minutes after finishing our dinner that a rather excited Desley Ritch appeared at our door and proceeded to thrust her camera’s LCD screen towards my face, in a sort of ‘see what I’ve seen’ sort of way. “Is this something different?” She asked in a cheerfully sarcastic tone, “Blimey- its a Bearded Seal!” I exclaimed, as she went on to say that they, her and her brother Christopher (who had found it earlier in the afternoon) were quite sure that that’s what it was.

Desley had hardly begun explaining where it was and my jacket was on and boots were being laced up. Thankfully it was just a few minutes along the road right slap bang in the middle of a reasonably busy little marina where it lay hauled out on the slip way. Whilst my wife Vaila got ready to join me I quickly rang the news around – desperate to get down there before the light went all together, it was already after six!

Thankfully, we managed to get news around every one locally and within minutes we were all stood barely a few meters away from a Bearded Seal, all the way from the Arctic! Unfortunately the seal proved not to be as long a stayer as last year’s individual, which was only the 12th record for Shetland and only lingered for another two days. A voicemail that eventually found its way through to my mobile later that evening was from Christopher earlier in the afternoon with the news – while I was out on a boat photographing a King Eider, yip that’s Shetland for you, a naturalist’s paradise!