Moment seal uses eel in game of 'tug of war' with Devon fisherman

  • Watch Rob Murphy's report

The extraordinary moment a seal got into a tug of war over an eel with a North Devon fisherman has been captured on camera.

Hundreds have been sharing the unusual footage filmed by local angler Mark Frith as he battled to reel in a conger eel off Ilfracombe Pier, before it climbed up the pier to take back the catch.

It was around 5pm on Tuesday 26 January when the experienced fisherman found someone else was tugging on his line.

The grey seal turned out to be five-month-old Chili, who was rescued from Blackpool Sands in South Devon in November last year.

He was cared for at the West Hatch Animal Centre in Taunton, where he was given his name, before being released into the wild in Devon earlier this month.

Mark, who has more than 30 years of fishing experience, told ITV West Country: "It was the weirdest thing. I've got a border collie and that's what that seal was doing, it was like a dog with a toy."

Wary of the seal getting injured, Mark tried to pull in the eel without the inquisitive creature getting tangled or causing the line to snap.

Thinking he would just give up, Mark didn't expect the seal to venture up the sea steps to claim his catch.

The seal had a red tag fixed to its tail, and Mark suspected it may have been released after being cared for as it had no fear for humans.

After taking his meal, Mark then decided to reward seal with some fish.

Chili was rescued from Blackpool Sands in South Devon before being released back into the wild Credit: Mark Frith

However, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue urge people to avoid wild seals whenever possible and to never feed them.

Mark also checked for any damage or hooks from the fishing line. Thankfully, the seal was given the all clear.

Amazingly, so was the conger eel who came out of the incident unscathed and returned to the sea along with the seal.

It was Mark's former step-son, Ben Mitchell Hunt, who shared the video on Facebook after editing in with some commentary.

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