Third rescue attempt planned for seal stuck in fishing hotspot Rochford Reservoir in Essex

The seal at Rochford Reservoir took a break on the bank on Wednesday.
A common seal has made it into Rochford Reservoir in Essex and is having a lovely time eating all its fish. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Rescue teams are preparing for a third attempt to get an injured seal out of a fishing hotspot and back to the sea.

Anglers have been banned from Rochford Reservoir in Essex where the juvenile common seal appeared before Christmas and has been happily munching his way through the bream and carp stocks.

But marine experts say the animal needs to be caught and moved out of the freshwater lake for his own safety - something that is proving tricky.

Simon Dennis, from British Divers Marine Life Rescue, an organisation that rescues around 70 seals in Essex alone every year, said the seal had an eye condition and an injured flipper or tail possibly caused by a fishing line.

He said the animal needed to be treated and moved to salt water to help him heal but he had evaded their nets twice already.

"We've had a couple of attempts so far but the only option is to get a net around them," he said. "They're very agile in the water and the problem with the net is he can very easily swim under it or over it.

"He's got no incentive to go in and get a fish in a trap because he's got the real thing swimming around him."

Teams from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, along with police and the Environment Agency, have twice tried to rescue the seal. Credit: BDMLR

Some angry anglers have suggested tranquilising the seal but Mr Dennis said that could prove fatal.

"It's incredible risky. They will just go into their breathing reflex and drown as soon as that's done," he said.

Teams - including police, council and the Environment Agency - are meeting this week to work out a plan for the third rescue attempt which could involve luring the seal on to land to make it easier to catch him.

A series of rivers and creeks lead from the Thames Estuary and River Roach up toward the reservoir.

Mr Dennis said it was likely the seal "just kept swimming" and "hopped over the bank and found himself in a giant food store" where he is happy to remain.

Adult seals are thought to need around 11lbs of food a day and staff at the reservoir fear the juvenile is getting through between 4lbs and 10lbs of its stock every day - massively affecting business.

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