On Saturday 20th February, a Harbour Seal was rescued from the River Thames, having been spotted almost 60 kilometres inland from the Thames Estuary.

The Harbour Seal (also known as the Common Seal) is found across the globe, in particular in the Northern Atlantic and North Sea. Many would have spotted and photographed these seals in sea-side towns, as they regularly visit harbours and shallower waters to feed. The semi-aquatic creatures have distinctive large brown eyes with speckled grey-brown fur, and are often mistaken for the more abundant Grey Seal.

The race for the rescue began when the seal was first reported on Monday 15th February, in the Teddington Lock area. Witnesses say it was searching for food, however there was a more urgent problem. The marine creature, which can sometimes weigh up to 150kg, had a fishing hook stuck in its mouth, along with the line and sinker. Concerns have been raised over the last decades over irresponsible fishermen, who lose or dump their equipment at sea. This event, yet again, highlights the damage that this carelessness can cause, and although this particular pup survived the ordeal, others aren’t so lucky, with an estimated 100 million marine animals dying every year, as a result of Plastic Pollution.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) assisted with the rescue of the seal on Saturday, capturing the mammal in a net and transporting it to more open water, where it was released. I contacted the organisation, who said that ‘there was a lot of public concern, so we felt we needed to do something to help’. Furthermore, the damage to the seal certainly could have been much more significant, with the potential of the seal ‘swallowing the hook, causing internal damage’ as well as the risk of further entanglement. Fortunately, thanks to the combined efforts of the association and Teddington Lock, another marine animal was saved.