Those who use the beaches of north Northumberland are being reminded to leave seals alone, particularly young pups.
The warning comes following three incidents in a week where walkers and beach users tried to help seal pups back into the water.
The young, white seal pups are not waterproof and many are not fat enough to survive the cold, so attempting to help by directing them back to the sea will kill them.
Even older seals should be left well alone, because they can bite and they may also transmit diseases to other animals such as dogs.
Anyone who has concerns about a seal should contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546 with as much information as they can, as well as a photo if possible.
Lyndsey Morris, a marine mammal medic with the charity, said: “It’s people who think they are doing right.
“One of our mammal medics was out walking a dog and a guy was chasing a white pup into the sea.
“They hunt in the water, but they need to be on land and nine times out of ten, if a pup’s on a beach, it means there’s something wrong with it.
“Often the mothers go out to hunt and leave the pups behind, but if someone goes near the pup, then the mums won’t go back to them. They’re very fickle.
Plus, as there is no seal sanctuary in the North East, animals have to be transported to either Scarborough or Glasgow.
The journey is very stressful for the seals, so if they can be left alone and observed on the beach, so much the better.
“People need to stay back and contact the Marine Life Rescue number or contact a local medic if they have a number, even just to send a text message,” added Lyndsey.