Published: 13:26, 16 April 2021
| Updated: 16:28, 19 April 2021
Another attempt will be made to rescue a seal which has become trapped in the River Medway with warnings issued reminding people not to get too close to the creature.
First spotted by Philip and Conan Anderson on April 2, the mammal was named Bradley although, after spending eight hours with the seal, BDMLR director of the rescue operations Mark Stevens says he suspects the seal is, in fact, a girl.
Fearing the mammal couldn't find his way below the lock again, with the lock gates not due to open until June, the BDMLR have been trying to offer the seal a helping hand - but so far, their rescue attempts have been unsuccessful.
“It has got stuck as far as I can tell. I don’t believe there is another way out,” said Mr Stevens.
“It is hanging around the Tovil slipway because it is the only inclined area.
“Everywhere else, it can’t get up the bank to get out. We will have a re-design and have a go.
“It is not the right place for it to be. It is in no danger, apart from the danger of the world’s most dangerous animal which is the human being.
“But if people do get close to it, and I have seen photos of people getting very close, it will bite, and their bites are very nasty. I have a few to prove it!
“Go and look at it by all means because it is a lovely thing to see, but they must respect the fact that it is a wild animal, and it will react wildly.
“The seal is okay if people treat it with respect.”
Mr Stevens, who will return to his full-time job as a teacher next week, also explained how they had tried to rescue the seal yesterday.
"The seal is okay if people treat it with respect..."
He said: “We tried to catch it yesterday.
“We went and looked at it and did a bit of an assessment on it - we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl - but I’ve got a suspicion that it’s a girl.
“It seems to have a little bit of respiratory trouble, and I am concerned about that. It is feeding well.
“I have watched it feed a few times and it is plenty fat enough, so there is no great rush. We tried to catch it with a net system. That didn’t work.
“We got within about 12 inches.
"The plan, if we had caught it, would have been to give it a veterinary assessment, give it any veterinary checks that it needs and re-locate it, hopefully, straight back into the sea.
“Obviously they are not naturally river freshwater animals, they are sea animals. That was the general plan but it didn’t come off.
“We are re-designing some of our systems because Allington lock is closed until June for refurbishment.”
New equipment will need to be purchased before they try to rescue the seal again.
When asked if they would try again today, Mr Stevens replied: “Not today, no.
“We have got to buy a bit more equipment and a few different things. The stuff we used yesterday didn’t work as well as we hoped.
“So we were all in bed last night, thinking about different ways we can have a go. So we will get some more equipment and have a go when we can have a go.”