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Blind seal gets away after becoming stuck in river

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Blind seal gets away after becoming stuck in river thumbnail

THERE were concerns for the safety of an elderly seal who got stuck in the Clanrye River on Wednesday, writes Martin McGuigan.
The intrepid pinniped gingerly made it's way up the Clanrye and caused quite the splash amongst shoppers, pedestrians and bystanders, who initially feared that the marine mammal had become marooned and disorientated due to the low tidal levels.
With the river at a low level, exposing the tyres and trollies which had been thrown into the river over the years, there were fears that the seal could end up injured - or worse.
However, we are pleased to report that it got away safely thanks to the the help of a number of public bodies.
Speaking to the Democrat just after the first sightings of the seal, Alan Ward of the USPCA in Newry said that it is nothing out of the ordinary for seals to be as far up the river in search of food.
“It's not unusual for seals to travel up the Clanrye River up as far as the Courthouse and you do find them miles up rivers. They follow shoals of fish up and with that part of the Clanrye being tidal, it's obviously got itself into a bit of shallow water.
“We got many reports, but one of the reports said that it's eyes might not have looked the best and that there might have been a problem with its sight.
“I got a look at it and couldn't see much of problem with its eyes but we have sent a message through to the Northern Ireland Seal Sanctuary just to make them aware of it.
“As I was there it was making its way back downstream, so hopefully with high tide it will make it's way back down towards sea.
“There's a good run of sea trout and salmon that come up that river which have possibly have brought the seal up. That's more than likely the reason, it can't be guaranteed, but that's really the only thing that would have it up there."
It later transpired that the seal was indeed blind, and John Winters from the Rivers Agency told us that it had lost its bearings.
“The seal's come in on the tide as far as the Town Hall following mullet in, which they feed on," he explained.
“Whenever the tide changes they go back out with the tide, but with us working down on the water we could see that its two eyes were grey, which would signify that the seal's blind."
At the time of going to press the loveable marine mammal offered no comment... presumably it's lips were sealed!

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