Conservationists are to contact the Scottish Government after becoming exasperated at the continued harassment of seals at a north-east nature reserve.
Ythan Seal Watch filmed two stampedes at the seal colony at Forvie National Nature Reserve near Newburgh this week.
Among the seals caught in one of the stampedes were a breeding pair.
In May 2017, the Scottish Government moved to legally protect seals from intentional and reckless harassment so they can rest, moult and breed undisturbed.
As a designated area, Forvie – home to around 1,000 grey seals – comes under this legislation, making it an offence to harass them.
Ythan Seal Watch has repeatedly urged visitors to view the seals from behind a fenced area at Newburgh beach and to read all signs and maps.
In April, drones – also banned from the area – were spotted flying over the seals.
And in August, two dog walkers were accused of sparking a stampede at the colony after invading the legally-protected area.
Ythan Seal Watch’s 2017/18 report, published that month, listed 35 cases of people causing a large number of seals to flee into the water.
During such panics, smaller seals can be crushed to death.
There were also 19 instances of people deliberately encircling seals on the sit, and 31 reported cases of people ignoring warnings and walking past the barrier fence.
Anyone caught disturbing the seals can be fined up to £5,000, and even risks imprisonment.
Now the group are preparing a letter to the Scottish government’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee.
Group coordinator Lee Watson said: “We have no idea what the problem is.
“None of the visitors that disturb the seals are following the advice or legal warnings that the reserve has laid out.
“To document 15 stampedes that emptied the beach in a few short weeks is unacceptable.
“And the 2017/18 report doesn’t include what happened when we weren’t there.
“The UK and in particular the Ythan is very significant for the conservation of grey seals and that is why the site was designated.
“Sadly we fear this will only get worse over winter.