Posted 11 April 2014 by Andrew Gardner
The Lewes seal is back, according to a photo on Twitter a few weeks ago. We don't know for sure if it's the same one, but at least one seal has been regularly visiting Lewes for a number of years. Not nipping into the shops, obviously, although it has been seen near Tesco; just sitting on a pontoon on the River Ouse, or sticking its nose out of the water for a look around, and causing a bit of excitement and controversy here and there.
No one seems sure if it's one seal or several. Someone did once claim to have seen a small colony in the area, but this would be highly unusual and it's most likely to be the same one returning as it finds the river a good source of fish, especially when they're migrating. It seems the seal population around the Sussex coast is quite healthy, especially around Peacehaven and Newhaven, and they do love sunbathing so the Lewes pontoon could be an ideal spot for a snooze.
Wildlife experts point out that we mustn't be tempted to feed or disturb the seal and that dogs mustn't be allowed to worry it. That works both way, of course - seals are powerful and would defend themselves if attacked, so if you do see it you'd be wise to keep your dog on a lead. And remember we have a selection of dog-friendly cottages if you want to bring your best friend on holiday, click here to view our selection.
Other lovely wildlife sightings around this area of the Ouse and its streams include herons on a regular basis, the occasional cormorant, sticklebacks, frogs and, at this time of year, tadpoles. Slightly less lovely was a Wells catfish apparently caught during the winter - these monsters can grow up to eight feet long and would easily take a dog or a swan, but at one time were often sold as tiny aquarium fish, then illegally released into the wild when they grew too big. Another solution was to keep them in ponds, so this one could have escaped during the floods.
The Ouse and big fish are no strangers to each other, though: carp, pike and eels are all regulars. Local fisherfolk say large saltwater fish such as mullet, sea trout, dabs and flounders appear at high tide. So a cosy holiday cottage right by the Ouse could be just the thing for the fisherman in your family!