‘Very feisty’ seal rescued from Lewes stream

The seal swimming in the heart of the reeds. Photograph: East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS)The seal swimming in the heart of the reeds. Photograph: East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS)
The seal swimming in the heart of the reeds. Photograph: East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS) | Other 3rd Party
Wildlife rescuers have been called to a seal struggling in Lewes.

Linklater Pavilion staff spotted the mammal in Winterbourne stream yesterday morning (March 9) and alerted East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS).

Founder and operations director of the service Trevor Weeks MBE said: “A passing member of the public who regularly uses the site said they had seen seals in the Winterbourne stream before, but the seal had managed to get into the area known as the heart of reeds due to amount of flood water.

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“We observed the seal’s behaviour for a while and it quickly became apparent that the seal was struggling to find his way back out to the Winterbourne stream.”

British Divers Marine Life Rescue was called in to assist with the situation.

Julia Cable of the Uckfield-based organisation said: “When I arrived Trevor showed me round and I could see why he wanted a second opinion.

“It was a very difficult and unusual situation and one which we were not going to rush into undertaking a capture, so we decided to hang back and monitor the situation for a while.”

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When the seal moved into flooded woodland next to the heart of reeds the team moved a metal fence panel across the flood water to cut off the mammal’s escape back into deeper water.

Mr Weeks said: “It was very much a waiting game to see if the seal would try and cross the land to the Winterbourne stream or try and go back into the heart of reeds.

“We weren’t really expecting to get an opportunity to catch the seal but it suddenly attempted to go right up to the blocked escape route, giving Julia a change to throw a towel over it and attempt to catch it.

“I sprang forward with a net to help Julia and between the two of us we managed to get the very feisty seal secured.”

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He added: “Despite being a bit worried about one of its eyes initially, once in the crate we were able to have a better look and it was then clear the eyes were fine and the seal really fit and healthy.”

The seal was transported to Newhaven Marina and released to avoid it going back into Winterbourne stream.

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