One-eyed seal that gorged on £4,000 worth of fish in reservoir dies after failed rescue

A that forced a to close after he gorged himself on £4,000 worth of fish has died after a failed attempt to rescue him. The animal, who had been nicknamed Nelson, first appeared in the lake in December after he swam up a river inlet from the sea to the Marks Hall Fisheries in Rochford, Essex.

Nelson the seal had spent six weeks in the lake growing “very fat” on bream, carp, catfish, and possibly ducks.

Wildlife groups used tranquilliser guns to sedate the grey seal after two previous failed attempts to capture him.

Nelson had also been suffering from multiple injuries, with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) deciding to anaesthetise him as a result.

The charity said he had injured his eye and had an open wound on his rear flipper, and wanted to return him to the sea “where he belonged”.

Their team worked alongside South Essex Wildlife Hospital, Rochford Council, Essex Police and the Environment Agency to attempt to retrieve the seal.

A BDMLR spokesman said: “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.”

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He said: “I’d just like it known that myself and Marks Hall Fisheries had nothing to do with the decision to use a tranquilliser dart to try and capture the seal.

“It was the sole responsibility of the BDMLR to use this method and they made the decision to go ahead.

“We were only on site as observers as I’m the licence holder for fishing rights at Rochford Reservoir.”

Councillor Dave Sperring, of Rochford District Council which leads on environmental issues, said it was a “desperately sad” situation.

He added: “Occasionally things don’t go as we hoped. It’s one of these things that we have to face.”