A seal named after Freddie Mercury was rescued at Teddington Lock at the weekend, after a fishing hook got stuck in its lip.
The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) and volunteers from across the UK fished ‘Freddie Mercury’ the seal out from the lock on Saturday.
They used nets and closed the lock gates to scoop the seal up, which also knocked the fishing lure out of its mouth.
Vet Scott Miller then cleaned the wound and gave the grateful marine mammal some antibiotics.
The seal’s electronic tag was then read and some surprising facts discovered, including his real name.
Freddie, it was revealed, was under a year old and had come to the UK from the Netherlands though with a brief detour in Calais where he was treated for lungworm.
The adventurous pup was deemed ready for release, and he was taken to the Isle of Sheppey in Kent to start a new life near the Thames Estuary.
Teddington resident and wildlife photographer Sue Lindenberg was photographing Freddie on Monday 15 February when she noticed his injury.
She and a bystander phoned around to get help for the seal, including notifying lock keeper Gemma Riley, who was later present at the rescue.
Lindenberg checked up on Freddie throughout the week before his rescue.
She said: “I am so grateful to the BDMLR and all involved for pulling out all the stops to rescue Freddy.
“He became quite a celebrity!”
“The amazing thing is he was able to catch and swallow sizeable fish!”
“He was quite a character, not at all bothered by people,” Lindenberg added.
“We are blessed to have had him here.
“It is such a relief to know that the hook was through his lip and not in his throat.”
Earlier this year a seal was spotted in the Thames by Twickenham and Richmond Lock.
Was this Freddie or just one of his friends? It’s hard to know.
Seals, dolphins and even whales are often spotted along stretches of the Thames in south west London, according to the Zoological Society of London.
The Society has a map of all the marine mammals seen in the Thames over the past year, and you can also report a sighting on the page.
What is clear is that they are beloved by residents – and welcome back at any time.
Featured image credit: Sue Lindenberg