Sunday, 7 November 2010

Common seal sighting River Cuckmere, East Sussex

I received a very interesting report of a common seal (from David Harris and Stewart Page) on the gravel/mud bank of the Cuckmere River, on the east side about half mile in from the sea. The time was about 4.20pm.
The seal was laying in a patch of sunlight, but the wind was cold, about 5 metres from the waters edge. It was clear from the photographs (taken by Stewart Page)  that this seal was not the common seal we see from time to time in the River Ouse. The seal appeared to be fit and healthy. It was holding a steady position with tail flippers together and slightly raised with those on its side flat. This is the usual resting position called the banana position because of its shape.
Of particular interest was the fact that the seal had a flipper tag and Stuart was able to get a clear photograph of the number.
I am currently in the process of tracking down the originators of the tag and hope to find out more about its history.

The seal moved its head around but it did not appear to be too anxious and made no attempt to make for the water, which is a seals first instinct if it feels threatened. Stuart and David observed the seal for about 15 minutes before moving on when their border terrier noticed the seal was there. Seals appear not to be disturbed by dogs at a safe distance, but David was worried that the dog would rush down towards the seal.


lisa said...

Hi there, I think that this is the same seal that i saw this morning. He was lying on the bank of the Cuckmere about half a mile from the sea. He was wearing a tag, but I couldn't get a clear view of the number.
I do not know anything about seals and was worried to see him on his own. Is it usual for seals to be on their own?

banjocat said...

Think same seal was there again today-30th dec.Had orange tag on left flipper.Was only a couple of metres from footpath on edge of the cutting very close to Golden Galleon Pub.It seemed fine and not at all phased by passing walkers.We went to report it at the wildlife centre but it was closed.
From Andy and Julia.Please email us any more info about it-thanks

banjocat said...

Sorry -got the date wrong-it was actually 31st when we spotted the seal. The time was 1.45pm-Andy.

Mary Starling said...

I cannot see the number on the tag clearly but at Mallydams we use orange tags and had released common seal juveniles prior to this sighting.

Roy said...

A common seal, rescued 13/6/10 and released by the RSPCA in Lowerstoft 18/8/10
has been spending the last few months in Sussex. The seal is a male yearling,
which had been named Twinkle by the RSPCA. First seen at Cuckmere River in
November 2010 and has been travelling between the Cuckmere, River Ouse and River
Adur. This seal can be identified by its unique orange number tag 61940 on its
hind flipper.

This has provided a fascinating and unique opportunity to follow the movements
of an individual seal in Sussex. The seal was last seen back in the Cuckmere

Twinkle is not the only seal that visits Sussex waters but most are transient
(except for the small group at Chichester). A common seal regular visits the
River Ouse during the winter months and in 2007 we had a visit from a tagged
seal that swam across the channel from France.

For more information about these seal sightings and pictures you can check out
my blog at

Steve Savage

Sussex regional coordinator Sea Watch Foundation
Sussex County Recorder Sea Mammals