The sight of dead and mutilated seals at a Highland beauty spot used by families has naturally caused alarm and distress to animal lovers and conservationists.
Suspicions were aroused further by the fact their heads were missing. Was this a sign that they had been shot and measures taken to disguise how and who killed them?
The mystery caused a debate among locals and visitors alike, who frequent the beach at Rosemarkie on a regular basis.
It is not surprising: the competing demands for fish – by seals to survive and by fishermen and processors to make a living – means there will always be tension and flashpoints.
There was a tense stand-off in the north-east recently as conservationists blocked attempts to cull seals.
Officially sanctioned, carefully controlled culls are a fact of life, even if many feel seals have a tough enough time as it is without human intervention.
Unofficial or excessive action is unacceptable and must be countered with vigilance and by reporting it immediately to the authorities.
The Scottish SPCA says there is nothing to suggest the seals died under suspicious circumstances in this case. However, it was also pointed out by a Highland marine pathologist that they had been lying there for weeks, and it is important to report such deaths quickly so that the exact cause of death can be discovered as soon as possible.
The important lesson here is continued vigilance against potentially unlawful behaviour, with due regard and respect for fishing needs.