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WATCH: Broads’ store owner coaxes wayward seal back to sea on an inflatable kayak

PUBLISHED: 13:48 28 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:48 28 August 2020

Sally the Seal, from Womack Staithe, had made herself comfortable at the marina but was rescued and encouraged back to sea by The Big Shop owner David Benbow. Picture: David Benbow

Sally the Seal, from Womack Staithe, had made herself comfortable at the marina but was rescued and encouraged back to sea by The Big Shop owner David Benbow. Picture: David Benbow

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The owner of a village store says he will “miss Sally the seal and her antics” after successfully escorting his newfound-companion back to sea.

Sally the Seal was rescued on Monday after getting over-familiar with boaters at Womack Staithe. Photo: David BenbowSally the Seal was rescued on Monday after getting over-familiar with boaters at Womack Staithe. Photo: David Benbow

On Thursday, August 20, a wayward common seal, since nicknamed Sally, turned up at Womack Staithe along the Norfolk Broads.

She made herself comfortable on the inflatable kayaks at the moorings behind The Big Shop, with owner David Benbow saying her curious and gentle presence “drew the crowds”.

But on Monday, August 24, Mr Benbow took advantage of the high evening tides to coax Sally out of the marina and on her way.

He said: “There was a big spring tide and high tide, which luckily coincided with us closing shop for the day. We decided once the tide was ebbing that it was the right moment.

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is hoping to rescue this evening. Photo: David BenbowWomack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is hoping to rescue this evening. Photo: David Benbow

“She needed to be moved on before someone got hurt. Seals won’t attack, but will bite if someone tries to touch them - and we’d had several kids in small dinghies interacting with her and getting in the water to swim with her.”

Explaining how the night unfolded, he said: “Once we closed the shop, me and Terri - one of my staff - tied the inflatable to our day boat and set out to guide her up towards Acle.

“We thought this would be an impossible task, but with a bucket of fish for encouragement, we managed it.

“She was very happy swimming alongside our boat up to the River Thurne, and then up to the Thurne mouth where it meets the River Bure.

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is hoping to rescue this evening. Photo: David BenbowWomack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is hoping to rescue this evening. Photo: David Benbow

“Once on the Bure she climbed back onto the inflatable to hitch a ride for a short distance, and then continued to swim alongside.

“As we reached Acle bridge we hung back to see if she would continue on her own - but after a couple of minutes she popped her head back up alongside the boat.

“We decided to go further along towards Stokesby, and at this point total darkness was on top of us.

“After hanging back from her, this time she continued ahead without us and we lost sight of her completely.

“With our navigation lights on, we then headed back to Womack.

“We felt sad, because we’ll really miss Sally the seal and her antics. But at the same time we were happy we’d achieved a successful rescue ourselves.”


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