Seal populations in the Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary have fallen by over 90% over the last 15 years.
A new report by Scottish Natural Heritage reveals harbour seals continued to fall in number around Scotland’s east coast last year despite there being more of them than ever on the west coast.
It is thought they are suffering from competition with the larger and more populous grey seal.
Last year only 29 common seals, as they are also known, were counted in the Firth of Tay and the Eden Estuary Special Area of Conservation, which was set up to protect habitats and wildlife including the mammals.
In 1992, there were 773 recorded.
Declining populations have also been documented around Orkney and the Moray and Dornoch firths.
By contrast, some parts of the west coast have seen populations rise by 60% or more over the last six years.
Scotland is home to more than a third of Europe’s harbour seals.
As well as the threat from grey seals, current thinking is that they may be being killed off by exposure to toxins from algae.
Research by Marine Scotland has ruled out viral infection, persistent organic pollutants and interaction with fisheries as causes.