By GREGORY KATZ
LONDON (AP) — A British fisherman had to be rescued from a cliff face after fleeing an aggressive colony of more than 50 gray seals and their young pups, the coast guard said Monday.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the fisherman was walking on a beach Friday near Green Stane cliff in southeastern Scotland when he came across the seals, who became agitated and aggressive. He climbed up a cliff face to escape but became trapped before reaching the top and had to call for emergency aid Friday night.
The Maritime agency said it had a rescue team at the site within 20 minutes but it took about two hours to set up and use the rope rescue system to bring the fisherman down to the beach. Officials say the fisherman, who was wearing waterproof clothing and using a headlamp for illumination, clung to the cliff for several hours before he was brought down.
Rescue workers then summoned a waiting lifeboat, which picked its way through the seal colony and took the fisherman to safety in Eyemouth harbor, 370 miles (nearly 600 kilometers) north of London. He was treated for exposure to the cold.
Coast guard officer Jonathan Mustard said people walking along the coast should beware of seals protecting their young and make sure to have a fully charged phone so they can summon help if needed.
"Aggressive seals are not a common occurrence and in this case they may have been protecting or defending their natural habitat and their young," he said.
This story has been corrected to say the beach was in southeastern Scotland.