Wildlife watchers have been asked to keep an eye out for an injured seal so experts can try to remove plastic debris stuck around its neck.
The female grey seal, known to watchers as Frisbee, has been living with the piece of discarded plastic for three years and was spotted recently at the haul-out reserve on the Ythan Estuary at Forvie.
Closer inspection has revealed that the debris, which has left the mammal with “horrific” scarring, is in fact the outer rim of a dog bowl – but the nickname has stuck.
Lee Watson, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) medic and founder of Ythan Seal Watch, said: “Frisbee has been absent for a few months which happens regularly – so we are always relieved to see her return.”
Frisbee risks death every time she goes to sea and Mr Watson is urging members of the public to let his team know if she is spotted on the beach.
He explained that rescue teams have previously tried to intervene, but by the time they arrive at the beach the seals have been scared off by visitors.
“Once the entangled seal is spotted, the process can take an hour or more before the team would be in place on the beach to enable a rescue.
“Frisbee would either need to be isolated from the group, or at the back of the haul out, preferably hauling out on a high tide and remaining at the top of the beach when the tide goes out. She is a large, powerful adult seal and can be dangerous.”
Mr Watson concerned animal lovers that Frisbee does not appear to be sick, but is most probably “irritable” due to her predicament.
“A rescue team would need space to contain Frisbee so that’s why we can’t attempt anything when Frisbee is on the water’s edge. An adult seal has an extremely powerful bite.”
Wildlife watchers have spotted Frisbee with the ring either around her neck or, from time to time, around the top of her head.
About 14 of the sea creatures at the Ythan colony, which is 2,000-strong, are estimated to be living ensnared in debris.
Mr Watson said: “Marine entanglements is a big, big problem, anything they can get their head into they can end up getting their heads stuck in.”
“Reports of entangled seals are still important as we can monitor them if we know they are on the beach and from pictures like this we can see the state of the injury and the condition of the seal which are all important parts of the assessment before any rescue is attempted. The most recent picture we have the better.”
He encouraged anyone who spots entangled seals such as Frisbee to contact: 01825 765 546 during office hours or 07787 433 412 outwith.