A tiny, uninhibited island of the Orkney Isles was given the seal of approval this weekend as a mass of the seas creatures hauled-out to begin their annual moult.
The incredible sight on the remote Linga Holm reserve, which lies a few hundred metres west of the Island of Stronsay, was captured by photographer, Frank Bradford.
The 140-acre site is reputed to be the third largest breeding ground in the world for the Atlantic Grey Seal.
It was purchased in 1999 by the Scottish Wildlife Trust as a sanctuary for the mammals after an anonymous benefactor donated £36,000.
The Trust pledged to monitor the seals’ progress, counter the threats that face them, including calls from fisheries for culls, and work towards greater legal protection for the island’s population.
As the colony of seals were snapped basking in the Spring sunshine at the weekend, the mammals separated into large and noisy groups to begin their yearly moult.
The process can take as long as six weeks to complete, during which time the creatures can become aggressive towards each other.
At other times, they will lie about on the sand enjoying the sun – if available – making grunting and wailing noises.
Once their sleek new hair coats have been replaced, they will head back out to sea to resume feeding.
There are around 200,000 of the mammals in the UK, and are particularly abundant around the coasts of the Outer Hebrides and the Orkney Islands.
Small numbers are found off the coasts of Wales, Cornwall and Norfolk, and larger numbers off the Lincolnshire coast, Farne Islands, Isle of May and Shetland Islands.