The wanderings of Lisburn’s very own seal, pictured above at the Lagan Weir, have prompted a concerned call for locals to help experts track down the meandering mammal.
It seems Sammy, as ‘she’ has been repeatedly dubbed on social media, has taken to roaming far from the Lagan riverside, with BBC Newsline shoring up her sealebrity status by posting on Facebook a picture of her reportedly resting some seven miles inland, between Lisburn and Seymour Hill.
The extensive online response included a post from the Northern Ireland aquarium, Exploris, identifying ‘Sammy’ as a female grey seal who had evaded two of their recent attempts to get a closer look.
Other observers made it clear there was nothing new in the seal stepping out of the water to wander.
“Have seen this seal loads of times as far up as Hilden,” posted Emma Henderson, while Katie Kerr said: “This seal comes up to Hill Street in Lisburn all the time! Walks up the towpath at the civic centre where the water is shallow.”
Christen McMaster posted: “Sure Sammy the Seal has been doing lengths of the Lagan for years now... He likes to head down towards Cutters weir as well! He’s doing just fine.”
Neville Turkington reported: “Spotted him 2weeks ago at Lambeg, got some real close up pics at him as I got within touching distance.”
Linda Stewart Tait said “Sammy the seal” had been “swimming up and down the Lagan for years”, while Ronnie Crawford wryly explained the seal’s visits thus: “It has come to see the state of Lisburn City Centre. Even the seals can’t believe it.”
On the downside, concerns about fish stocks surfaced among others online, Noel Mac posting: “Sammy the seal still alive and swimming. I watched him almost 2 years ago at Lisburn. Can’t be many fish left.”
This from Gary Porter: “Fished the river for years and spotted first seal about 10 years ago - going to have an affect on wild trout sooner or later.”
Exploris, meanwhile, is eager to help in Sammy’s case.
Opened in 1987 to enable the public to view diverse marine life, and involved in the rehabilitation of seals since 1989, Exploris opened a purpose-built Seal Sanctuary in 2000.
Of Lisburn’s resident seal, they said: “In the last week or so we have been called out to this adult female grey seal twice...but unfortunately she has slipped back into the water before we could attempt to help her!
“We would very much like to get a closer look at her. If you see her please call us!”