'Nelson' the Rochford Reservoir seal died after being shot with anaesthetic dart

RIP Nelson - The seal died on Friday <i>(Image: Simon Murdoch / Darren Lindsey)</i>
RIP Nelson - The seal died on Friday (Image: Simon Murdoch / Darren Lindsey)

WILDLIFE rescuers say the Rochford Seal known fondly as ‘Nelson’ died after being anesthetised.

A third rescue attempt for the harbour seal was launched on Friday.

Crews from the British Diver Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), Rochford Council, South Essex Wildlife hospital, Essex Police and the Environment Agency attempted to capture Nelson and remove him from Rochford Reservoir.


The seal had been in the coarse angling lake for over six weeks, eating more than £4,000 of fish over that period.

Nelson had an open wound on his rear flipper and an eye injury and rescuers were keen to assess the animal’s health, treat the wounds and, after a period of rehabilitation, return it to the sea where it belonged.

A specialist vet successfully darted the seal with a special dart gun and anaesthetic, but sadly, due to “unforeseeable complications”, the animal avoided capture and is believed to have passed away under the anaesthesia while in the water.

Crew had emphasised before the rescue took place that it carried significant risk.

However, the BDMLR says the seal was under threat of being shot in order to remove it from the lake; it had been deemed worth trying to catch and relocate it in order to save its life.

“This is a very sad outcome from a very tricky situation,” a BDMLR spokesman said.

“Rescuing any animal using anaesthetic holds significant risk, but in this case the coalition deemed it was worth taking.”