Injured seal treated after being found in Fen river by specialist rescue team - and tonight reported to be 'happy chilling'
PUBLISHED: 18:50 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 19:07 29 August 2018
An injured seal spotted on the Great River Ouse has been tracked down and treated.
A determined bid by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) caught up with the seal this afternoon.
Trev Wright, a volunteer with the BDMLR, said: “I am so pleased to announce I have found Neil the seal and he has no longer got a hook in or near his eye.
“Just in case there are two seals with the same injures please still contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR).
“Many thanks for everyone’s help. He is happy chilling.”
Mr Wright said Neil no longer has a hook in or near his eye – the injury that alerted dozens of people to his plight.
The attempt to track the seal has been going on for sometime and earlier today Chris Howes, eastern region of the Inland Waterways Association, spotted Neil near Stretham.
His partner Christine Colbert said: “At about noon today Chris saw the injured seal on the Old West River.
“The Environment Agency and rescue organisation know and hope to catch him in Hermitage Lock.
“The problem is in fact a large fishing lure that’s attached itself to the poor creature’s eye.”
Earlier guest owner Peter Slee-Smith appealed for help after he saw the injured seal in the water in Littleport.
“We own a small bed and breakfast business in Littleport (The Gatehouse) adjacent the Great River Ouse and overlooking the Boat Haven marina,” he explained.
“One of our guests noticed the seal on the back of a boat.
“The seal was clearly injured and had a large fish hook through its left eye which was bright red.”
Last week the Fish and Duck Marina at Popes Corner, Little Thetford, posted to Facebook their concern about the seal.
“We have been informed the seal that frequents our end of the Ouse is injured. It has a fishing lure embedded near to its eye,” they posted.
“Apparently, it has been seen in Ely today and also recently seen near our marina.”
Responding to criticism they had failed to act, a spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “There was a misunderstanding in this case, the RSPCA does help marine animals and we have attempted to help this particular seal.
“This seal is extremely large and still very active and he dives back into the water making it impossible to get near him. He has also been spotted as far north as Denver sluice and has access to a vast stretch of deep wide river.
“The RSPCA and other seal rescue charities do rescue adult wild seals but catching them is a very difficult task, as they will always seek to dive back into the sea or river to avoid humans.
“Sadly it is usually only when they start to become weak and exhausted that rescuers can get close enough.
“Once a seal is rescued they are normally taken to an RSPCA wildlife centre where it can take months to get them back to full health and strong enough to return back to the wild.
“The RSPCA is very grateful to all the concerned members of the public who have contacted us regarding this seal.
“We would however remind the public not to try and catch the seal themselves as they are large wild animals and can be very dangerous to an untrained person as they have a very nasty bite and large claws. Attempts to catch the animal may also lead to it becoming injured.”