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Rare black seal pup rescued in Scotland

13/03/2013 16:19:35

A black 'melanistic' seal pup found on a beach near Aberdeen. Photo courtesy of Scottish SPCA

Melanistic seal rescued from Aberdeen beach

March 2013. A rare black seal pup is recovering in the Scottish SPCA's care after being found struggling to survive on Aberdeen Beach.

The pup, known as ‘Liquorice', is actually a young male grey seal that was discovered by a member of the public; he was very weak and thin when discovered. His coat is jet black, which is very unusual for a seal of his kind.

Scotland's animal welfare charity is now rehabilitating Liquorice at its National Wildlife Rescue Centre at Fishcross near Alloa. Centre Manager Colin Seddon said, "Liquorice weighed only 14kgs when he was rescued and we'd expect a pup of his size to be at least 20kgs or more. It's common in grey seals for the male to be darker than the female, but Liquorice's coat is jet black which is very unusual. This is the first pup of this colour to come into our care for many years.

Colour variations

Leucism, albinism & melanism - Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures. This seems the mostly likely explanation.


"There seems to be more sightings of black coloured grey seals in the north of Scotland and they do appear on Shetland, but not in large numbers. Thankfully Liquorice is doing really well and feeding himself without any trouble. His weight is increasing steadily and he's now a much healthier 19kgs.

"All going well we hope to release him back in to the water within the next month."

Anyone who discovers an injured or distressed animal should call the Scottish SPCA Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999.


Black seal pups are very unusual - Photo courtesy of Scottish SPCA


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