Angling Times (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

SINCE the mid-1970s there have been oc­ca­sional seal ex­cur­sions up the tidal Thames, usu­ally ter­mi­nat­ing at Ted­ding­ton Weir.

Once ev­ery three or four years was the norm. Now, prob­a­bly thanks to an ex­cep­tion­ally dry sum­mer mean­ing less fresh wa­ter go­ing down the river, lo­cal an­gling ex­pert John Gard has made ‘at least’ 20 sight­ings. It could be the seals are fol­low­ing what has been a very strong sea-trout run.

Some of these could pos­si­bly have been the same pin­nipeds who’d stayed a lit­tle longer than usual, but that doesn’t ac­count for them all. John tells me some have been smaller, prob­a­bly ju­ve­nile, seals whilst one in par­tic­u­lar has been enor­mous.

Ot­ters don’t even get close to what a seal will con­sume. Ac­cord­ing to aca­demics the aver­age ot­ter needs 2lb of food a day, about the same as a cor­morant. Seals will eat be­tween 30 and 40 times that much.

Seals are at least as pro­tected as ot­ters, and with the flow on the Thames and other tidal rivers not likely to in­crease any time soon, this is an­other load our fish stocks have to bear. The beasts are for­ag­ing way out­side their nor­mal range. We just have to suck it up!

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