Tributes paid to Rusty the seal in Newhaven

Rusty the seal. Photo by Martin Sinnock.
Rusty the seal. Photo by Martin Sinnock.

A seal which had become a local celebrity was found dead on mud banks in Newhaven this week.

Rusty is believed to have died on Tuesday August 19 just weeks after she gave birth to a pup.

The seal became popular with residents, who gathered to watch her swimming up the river and taking a break on the river bank.

Sadly the pup died a few hours after Rusty gave birth.

A Facebook page was created for Rusty in July with residents posting dozens of pictures and videos of her.

She made her home in Newhaven Harbour about three months ago and was one of three seals who have been spotted in the area recently.

Her Facebook page attracted an astonishing 744 likes and updates about her on social media have proved a big hit with local residents.

Newhaven resident Martin Sinnock has been helping the British Divers Marine Life Rescue charity by keeping an eye on Rusty.

As a keen paddle boarder Martin said Rusty and the other seals would often follow him up the river.

He explained it was impossible to know what caused Rusty’s death as her body was washed away by the tide, so a post mortem examination could not be carried out.

He said locals had been feeding her which he thought had made her lazy and encouraged her to stay in the river longer than she should have .

Martin said: “My personal opinion is she was probably in the river far too long and probably had too much diesel in her.

“The river is not terribly clean and she has been there for three months.

“Giving birth in those conditions and losing the pup. I don’t think that it was a very healthy environment.”

Attempts were made to search for her body by local residents but with no success.

Access was even gained to the river bank by the incinerator thanks to the management at the facility.

Dozens of tributes were posted on Rusty’s Facebook page.

Mac Macaulay said: “RIP Rusty, our very own celebrity for the short time you chose our harbour.”

Janice Hartley-Goodall said: “So very sad. Rusty has gone. Such a beautiful seal.

“The souls of her and her pup are together now. R.I.P.”

And Sara Bowring added: “It is with the heaviest heart that I have to tell you all that Rusty our beloved Newhaven seal has died. BDMLR are dealing with this and thank everyone for their help. She was much loved.”