Seal center worried about lost ringed seal touring Dutch provinces

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 2019. (Photo: Politie Aalsmeer Uithoorn/Facebook)

The lost ringed seal that was spotted swimming around Amsterdam and De Kwakel over the weekend, now ended up in Gelderland after a long swim through Utrecht. Seal center Pieterburen is concerned about the exotic animal, which likely came from around Norway, because the Netherlands is currently way too hot for the seal, NOS reports. 

The seal was first spotted at a lock in De Kwakel on Sunday. On Monday he was noticed on a houseboat near Breukelen in Utrecht. On Tuesday night he was filmed swimming around a campsite near the Eiland van Maurik. 

"Here jokes are being made that the seal is touring all the provinces. We thought for a while that he was heading to Germany, but now it seems more like he is swimming to the south. It is possible that he could reach the North Sea through Rotterdam by himself", a spokesperson for the seal center said to NOS. When the seal was first spotted on Sunday, Pieterburen advised that he be left alone. But at the time, the center did not know it involved a ringed seal. "If we had known that, we would have picked it up. It is not normal for a seal from the polar region to end up here. There is really something wrong with its orientation system."

According to the spokesperson, ringed seals normally live in temperatures that reach no higher than 10 degrees. "It is way too hot for him here. But so far he looks good. He looks strong, but we're worried. He doesn't belong here." The spokesperson is not worried about the seal starving - seals aren't picky eaters and will be fine as long as there's fish available - but the sooner the seal can be gotten back to its natural habitat, the better.

Pieterburen is not actively looking for the seal. "That is impossible for us. He travels enormous distances. If we go looking for him after a report, he is somewhere else again", the spokesperson said to NOS. But the shelter does call on people who see the seal to take photos and videos and report it to the center, which is available 24 hours a day. If the animal can be caught, it can recuperate at the seal center and then be taken back to the vicinity of Norway.