Seal of Approval for the Thames

Cleaner river brings a new kind of resident to this part of London.

Picture courtesy of

Evidence of the improvement of water quality in the Thames has been provided recently by the arrival of a new resident.

The grey seal, which has been regularly sighted on the river from Putney to Brentford. A seal, presumed to be the same one has also been spotted at Rotherhithe.

Putney resident Melissa Cole was enjoying a quiet afternoon's fishing on the tow path when the unexpected guest made its appearance.

Commenting on her experience she said: "I heard about it from other fishermen and joked I wouldn't care if I didn't catch anything as long as I saw the seal and just as I pulled my first fish of the day out of the water up it popped right next to my line.

"It looked a bit miffed, I think I hooked its dinner!"

The seal took up residence for a while at Oliver's Island near Chiswick with drinkers at the City Barge pub coming out to spot it. The seal seems to have spent sometime living around Hammersmith Bridge with rowers reporting several close shaves.

However, the seal probably won't be with us forever and it could be a case of "So long and thanks for all the fish."

Environment Agency spokesman Chris Mitchell said: "residents should keep their eyes out for this rare treat, it will only be around as long as there are enough fish to eat."

October 7, 2003