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Curious seal interrupts rowers on Lymington River to sunbathe on their boats

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The seal flopped aboard Andrew Havard’s boat for a closer look
The seal flopped aboard Andrew Havard’s boat for a closer look

A PLAYFUL seal delighted early morning rowers in Lymington River on Monday – when it hopped aboard for a spot of sunbathing.

The cheeky creature, who was spotted by Lymington Rowing Club coach Kirsten Melin and her companion Andrew Havard, spent several minutes sunbathing on the front of their rowing boats before following the pair along Lymington River.

Kirsten, who teaches the Learn to Row programme and leads adventures with the Lymington-based company Rowing Adventures Ltd, has spotted seals in the river before but has never enjoyed such a close encounter.

She said: “We saw a seal in the quay and again in the river over the quiet summer and it has approached the boat once before – but we hadn’t really had time to stop for long enough to allow the seal to relax.

“We had gone out for a sunrise row on Monday morning because we were unable to join one of our college friends Pete who is undertaking a charity bike ride in Wales, to mark the end of his cancer treatment and in memory of Dave, also a college friend, who passed away during lockdown– because of the restrictions on groups of six and local lockdowns.

The seal took quite an interest in the rowers
The seal took quite an interest in the rowers

“We let Pete know that we would be getting involved by going for a sunrise row instead – and then this really amazing and special thing happened.”

When the pair first spotted the seal in the Pylewell area of the river, it spent time playing a few metres away from them before plucking up the courage to get closer, and eventually climbed aboard both of their boats.

Kirsten said: “The seal was really intrigued by us and seemed very friendly. It enjoyed sunbathing on the front of our boats and I think it would have happily stayed there all day.”

The creature, which was likely to be a common seal or harbour seal, was fairly small and was tagged.

She said: “Our boats are bright green and sit shallow in the water with a low stern deck so it’s relatively easy to climb aboard.

“We did notice that when the ferry was passing it left us but then reappeared a few moments later.

“When it was time for us to head back we gently urged it off the deck and it then followed us up the river, swimming in the wake and playing in the wash from our blades.”

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