New reports have come in over the past weekend that Worcestershire’s most famous aquatic resident, Keith the Seal, has been spotted on the River Severn between Worcester and Stourport.
The sightings follow speculation earlier this year that Keith (who, despite the name, is actually female) may have moved out of the area. We are now appealing to local residents to take a picture of the seal, so that our experts can identify the animal and find out whether the new sightings are of Keith.
Keith, a grey seal, was first spotted in Worcestershire back in 2012, and has since been sighted regularly on the waterway, to the joy of many residents. Attempts to trap Keith and return her to the sea failed, although last year’s flooding did see her make her way to Monmouth in Wales. If confirmed, the new sightings would suggest that she’s determined to make Worcestershire her home.
Laura Plenty, ecologist at the Canal & River Trust, said: “It’s unusual for seals to choose to live in freshwater, but not unheard of. If this is Keith back again, there must be something about life in the river that floats her boat. Whatever her reasons for being here, it’s a great chance for us to see one of the UK’s native mammals up close.”
Concerns over the impact Keith’s return might have on fish stocks in the area are another reason for needing to identify the latest seal sighting.
John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “It’s important we find out if it is Keith back again so that we can also keep an eye on the protected species of fish that also call the river home. One or two adventurous seals like Keith probably won’t have too much of an impact on the catchment as a whole, but if lots more choose a life on the river, it might represent a significant threat to several rare and protected fish species.”