Hereford & Worcester

Grey seal spotted in Bewdley and Stourport-on-Severn

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Media captionSirius Marine Services recorded the grey seal swimming around the marina in Stourport-on-Severn

A seal has been spotted in Worcestershire in what experts say is a "rare" sighting so far upstream.

What is thought to be the same grey seal has been seen in Bewdley and at the marina in Stourport-on-Severn, about 50 miles from the sea.

It is unclear whether it is the same animal spotted in Worcester in November and named by locals as Keith.

On Sunday a seal was filmed at an RSPB nature reserve in Cambridgeshire, about 50 miles from the coast in Norfolk.

The Marine Conservation Society, based in Ross-on-Wye, said the seal seen in Worcestershire might have been following food.

Gill Bell, Wales programme manager, said: "We've had a lot of flooding recently and that makes the river very muddy and brings a lot of nutrients, which attract fish.

'Lot of energy'

"Eighty per cent of our stocks have been overfished, so it might have been drawn by the food."

Roger Winfield said his son had spotted the seal basking by the side of the river in Bewdley on New Year's Day, near the rowing club.

The floods have also allowed the seal to swim over weirs to reach the marina in Stourport-on-Severn.

Luke Hemming, who works at the marina, said he had seen the seal several times over the day, sometimes even with a fish in its mouth.

He said it had come within about 10ft (3m) of him.

Ms Bell said while grey seals do travel upriver, their bodies are adapted to salt water conditions.

She said they could not survive long in fresh water and tended to stay nearer the estuary, where the saline level was higher.

"It might have expended a lot of energy swimming upriver against the flood water, so hopefully it's finding food," she said.

"The floods should at least make it easier to travel back downstream."

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, from the society, said if people spotted the seal looking listless or in difficulty they should contact the RSPCA.

The Cambridgeshire seal, which was filmed in flood water, was spotted at Fen Drayton Lakes Reserve, in Swavesey.

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