Footage of seal sightings in Richmond and Twickenham emerged online over the weekend, with residents wondering if the beloved ‘Twickerseal’ was popping up to welcome 2021.
Seals are known to reside in the Thames but it is unusual for them to go so far up, making these sighting very special.
On Friday, a video was posted to a Twickenham community page showing a seal in the Thames just outside Marble Hill Park.
Then on Saturday, a seal (dare we say the same seal?) was seen crossing Richmond Lock.
Just like Banksy, whenever evidence of a seal’s presence in the area emerges there is debate around whether it is the same seal or one of a group of different seals.
For those who believe there is only one seal, the allusive celeb-status seal is known by many names: Twickerseal, Sammy, Blob…
No matter what name they go by, this seal is the hero we all need to put a smile on our faces in January 2021.
Or, if it does turn out to be multiple seals, they are certainly the Avengers of the Thames.
Before Friday, no local seal sightings had been posted widely to social media since November 2020.
A light-hearted Twitter exchange saw Chiswick and Teddington Lifeboat crews arguing over who the seal belonged to in early November last year.
Gianna Saccomani, 57, is part of the lifeboat crew at RNLI Teddington Lifeboat Station and has seen a seal several times while on duty.
She said: “He’s quite friendly, he comes up, he’s quite inquisitive.
“We get really excited because it’s not common to see a seal this far up so we think it’s probably the same seal as well.”
Gianna said the crew members were worried when they first saw the seal because they did not think it should be so far upstream, but after researching and making enquiries they were told it was perfectly safe.
In fact, the seal’s presence is a sign that the water is clean.
She said: “We have actually seen him with a fish in his mouth which is a good sign that the water is healthy enough for them to feed on the fish.
“I think the Thames is cleaner than it’s ever been.”
She also spoke about an incident in which the crew was called out by a member of the public who said they had seen someone wearing a black hoody in the water around Richmond bridge.
She said: “We launched a lifeboat and raced down there and it was the seal.
“We kind of thought it could be the seal but you can’t take that for granted, you have to investigate every single call because if it had been a real person that would have been terrible.”
Other Twickenham residents shared their favourite stories of seal sightings.
One seal-spotter said: “Sammy the seal was living in Thames young mariners last summer along with a terrapin and a kingfisher – our family camping trip was filled with lots of nature watching.”
Another reminisced on her birthday last June, when she found herself swimming with a seal in Teddington.
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has been monitoring marine mammals in the Thames since the early 2000s.
ZSL encourages those who are lucky enough to see a seal in the Thames to report it to help research.
Have you seen a seal around the Richmond and Twickenham area? Let us know!
Featured image credit: Active 360