Rochfords’s famous Nelson the seal dead after eviction attempt

Seals live in the open sea, feeding on fish, crustaceans, sea birds and more (AFP via Getty Images)
Seals live in the open sea, feeding on fish, crustaceans, sea birds and more (AFP via Getty Images)

A seal, who had made an Essex angling lane home and eaten fish stock worth thousands of pounds, has died after a third attempt to remove him.

Nelson the seal had been squatting at the Marks Hall Fisheries in Rochford since December 12 after journeying in from the river Roach.

The four-foot-long seal with a suspected blind eye had frequently made his way through the lake, consuming many of the carp, catfish, and bream. This is estimated to have been worth £4,000.

The lake’s owner, Nick North, had to close his business due to his unwelcome guest.

Wildlife groups tried to evict Nelson three times by using nets, but their efforts to release him back to the sea were unsuccessful.

On Friday, January 27, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) tried to rescue him again with a tranquiliser gun.

The diving team worked with the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, Rochford Council, Essex Police and the Environment Agency.

However, Nelson died underwater while anaesthetised due to “unforeseeable complications”.

He was found to have an infection on one of his flippers, which potentially could have contributed to his demise.

Rochford district councillor Dave Sperring, who leads environmental projects, said of Nelson’s death: “It was very tightly controlled with who was there. It is desperately sad.

“Nelson became a local character overnight. As I understand, it was injured and the rescue was necessary to return it to its natural environment.

“They had it well managed. All the experts that could possibly be there were there. It’s a protected species. I’ve met these people on many occasions and they’re very conscientious.

“They wouldn’t have gone out to deliberately kill it. They wouldn’t have made all these attempts for that outcome. Occasionally things don’t go as we hoped. It’s one of these things that we have to face on occasions.”

A BDMLR spokesperson added: “This is a very sad outcome from a very tricky situation.

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

“The coalition expresses deep disappointment and sadness that the operation was unsuccessful, but had emphasised before the rescue took place that it carried significant risk.

“Nevertheless, as 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.”

The lake owner, Mr North, will now have to locate the deceased seal at the bottom of the three-and-a-half-acre lake before he can reopen the Fisheries.