I came across Micky far, far up a Cornish creek, six miles from the open sea. In fact so far up he was resting beside fresh water, because he had swum up just about to the tidal limit of the estuary.
I did a bit of a double-take when I first caught sight of a golden-coloured creature the size of a large dog enjoying the warmth of the early November sun. I paddled quietly upstream beside the opposite bank to avoid giving it a fright, and was very surprised to see it was a small seal. I was even more surprised to see it was a Harbour seal (aka Common Seal), and still more (but now a bit confused as well) to see that it looked like a pup.
Harbour seals are rare in Cornwall (there are just a handful scattered around the coast), and they don’t breed in the county. In fact there are no breeding colonies within a hundred miles.
So it was all a bit puzzling, but excellent to watch this little seal stretching and snoozing, while keeping half-an -eye on what I was up to on the other side of the river.
I helped prolong his rest by ensuring, with a series of cunningly crafted gesticulations, that a fleet of canoeists passed by silently and at a respectful distance. They were only too happy to oblige, and thrilled to see the seal.
Just as I was about to paddle back downstream I noticed a yellow tag in the seal’s tail as he was waving it about. This was lucky because up till now it had been hidden by a fold of skin. My photo clearly showed the number: NL 672. From the Netherlands?….surely not.
Back at home I sent my photos to Sue Sayer of Cornwall Seal Group and she quickly, and very enthusiastically, replied that this seal was called Micky and that he had indeed come from the Netherlands.
He had been brought in to a rescue centre ( called ‘A Seal’) on 31 July when just a few days old and in a bit of a sorry state, weighing only 10.8kgs.
He had been nursed back to health and released onto a beach beside the North Sea on 3rd October, weighing 30kgs.
And exactly a month later (I first saw him on 3rd November), he has arrived in Cornwall over four hundred miles away!
Thanks to Sue Sayer (Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust) and Vincent Serbruyns (A Seal, Holland) for the background information on Micky.