Famous seal's story sparks campaign for Thames 'seal hotspot' signs

  Posted: 29.04.21 at 12:39 by Ian Francis

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A group of Londoners are calling for seal signs to be installed by the Thames following the tragic death of beloved local seal Freddie Mercury.

The signs would alert passers-by to places these marine mammals have been spotted and also educate the public on how to behave around these creatures.

Seal Watch, a group of residents in Chiswick who formed after Freddie's death, had the idea for the signs.

The plan currently has the support of Hounslow Council and local paper The Chiswick Calendar reported last month that the signs will be funded by the British Divers and Marine Life (BDMLR) association with the money raised from a recent 10,000 justgiving appeal

Seal Watch member Mary Tester told Nub News: “The death of Freddie lit a fire in people of passion to protect seals.

“Seals are good news, people love them and are thrilled when they spot them.

Freddie was often seen around Richmond (picture: Duncan Phillips)

“They tend to be in the estuary but they do come further up the river to Hammersmith, Chiswick, Brentford and as far as Teddington.

“We feel that people do want to be educated about how to behave around them, there is enormous interest."

She continued: “The idea of the signs would be to place them at points where you could spot them.

“The signs would not just be about seals. They would tell you what species of marine life live in the river as well as wildlife on the river.

“With an increase in marine life, we feel now is the time to start educating the public and we know there is demand for this.

Freddie landing a catch (picture: Sue Lindenberg)

"For example with seals, the public should be aware that it’s not good to get too close to them. Many people don’t realise that they do bite and do have bacteria in their mouths and you could be seriously ill if you got bitten.

“People should not touch, feed or chase them. They also don’t like loud noises.”

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Police appeal after tragic death of seal

The Royal Zoological Society makes regular surveys and estimates there are now more than 3,500 seals in the Thames.

Most of these are in the river's estuary, where harbour seals have established a breeding colony.

Still from 'Thames Seal enjoys Lunch in Twickenham'

If you see a seal or other marine mammal injured or in distress, call the British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546.

If you see a dead marine animal, call the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme on 0800 652 0333.

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