A SEAFARING teenage birthday party was horrified to see a dog nearly drown at Findhorn.
Sophie McIntyre (15) and her friends had just set sail on the North 58 water taxi and were rounding the bend from Findhorn Bay into the Moray Firth when a Husky on the sandbank dived into the outgoing tide.
“It was off the lead and running towards some seals before it jumped in the sea to follow them,” said Sophie. “Once it was in the water, the seals went after the dog instead - it was distressed in the deeper water and appeared to be going under.”
Pippa Low from Findhorn Marina explained North 58’s Ella Benninghaus, who had taken Sophie’s birthday party out to spot seals, was shocked by the dog’s behaviour.
She said: “It ran towards the seals and scared them all in to the water before swimming into the tide.
“Luckily Ella was able to retrieve the dog from the water and bring it back to it’s owner on the beach.
“It could have ended very differently for this dog had one of our boats not been there!”
Sophie was proud to see her grandfather Eddie Kelly help pull the animal on board.
She said: “Some of us panicked thinking the boat was going to tip but most of us just wanted to help.
“Everyone was happy that the dog was OK. The owner was in tears afterwards and told us she didn’t know whether to hug the dog or punish it!”
Ms Low confirmed that the incident is not rare.
She said: “Many people are oblivious to the danger their presence on the sandbank can have. The seals haul out to rest and it is important to keep a distance from them of minimum 200m.
“When dogs confront seals, it is the dogs who end up significantly worse off.”
Ms Low warned of the tide at Findhorn which has a history of catching people out at that particular sandbank by the strength of the tidal current or the incoming tide cutting people off from the mainland.
She added: “Visitors are always curious with wildlife, which is awesome, but it is important to remember that this is their home, and disturbance should be kept to a minimum whenever possible.”
See the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching code for best practice when observing the wildlife of the Moray Firth.