Lost seal spotted again, this time near Utrecht

Lost ringed seal swimming near a sliding gate in De Kwakel, 23 June 2019
Lost ringed seal swimming near a sliding gate in De Kwakel, 23 June 2019Photo: Politie Aalsmeer Uithoorn/Facebook

A ringed seal native to arctic waters was seen lounging on a slip behind a houseboat in Breukelen, Utrecht on Monday night. Experts were concerned the seal could suffer from the hot weather expected week, and might not make it back to the North Sea by itself. People in the Utrecht area were asked to keep an eye open for the seal swimming in the region's waterways.

A Breukelen resident let their houseboat-dwelling neighbor know about the uninvited aquatic animal, according to newspaper AD. "I thought he was kidding me," Netty said of neighbor Kees Slinger. She wondered if perhaps he was suffering from heat stroke.

Indeed, the seal was hanging out on the boards above one of the boat's pontoons, the AD wrote. "He would look up at you if you made a sound. He laid down quietly; he had found a good spot there," Netty told the newspaper.

A neighbor called an animal ambulance service which advised to avoid the seal and let it be, saying it would likely take to the water when it was ready. However, they were not aware that this was not a common seal native to the Netherlands, but rather a ringed seal more likely to be seen on the Norwegian coast.

It was first seen a day earlier just south of Schiphol Airport, and a handful of people claimed to see it in Amsterdam on Sunday night. The animal was still lounging next to the houseboat at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The Pieterburen Sealcentre in the northern province Groningen was then notified as it had been working to track down the seal, capture it, and release it into the North Sea.

Seal experts were concerned this week that the seal would be adversely affected by the warm weather. Unfortunately, the specialists arrived too late. The seal had already plunged back into the water and disappeared.

The ringed seal was last seen headed towards Kockengen, according to AD. A spokesperson for the Pieterburen Sealcentre asked residents in the Utrecht area to notify them if they see the animal.


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