The seal which has delighted members of the public in Shoreham may have actually swallowed a fishing line and could be quite ill, vets have warned.
Yesterday, Gayle Foggon, a veterinary nurse from Coastway Vets in High Street, Shoreham, visited the young common seal which has been spotted along the harbour route between Southwick and Shoreham during the last few weeks, using her training with British Divers Marine Life Rescue Service.
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She posted on the surgery's Faceboook account warning people not to get near the beloved animal, which has been shared over 1,600 times. She said: "It is apparent that he/she has swallowed some kind of fishing line possibly with weights/hooks attached. This is causing him to cough and gag and paw at his mouth, and over time he could very easily become quite sick.
"PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE no matter how tempting it seems approach him, a wild animal who is unwell and frightened can behave unpredictably and could cause injury to anyone attempting to get near; members of the public today were seen trying touch him and feed him unsuitable food stuffs such as sandwiches.
"The British Divers Marine Life Rescue are aware of his case and were en route to assist today when he suddenly took flight and swam far out to sea.
"Those that have been watching him over recent days report a decline in his demeanour , so it is incredibly important that we act quickly and without causing him/her undue stress.
"In the event that you come across our visitor please call (01825)765546 BDMLR will assist from there, failing that contact the clinic on (01273)454040."