COULD this little sea creature be Fulham FCs biggest fan in the whole of the North Sea?
The smooth head of this seal was spotted bobbing above the water near Craven Cottage on Thursday last week (May 16) after travelling more than 40 miles along the river from the Thames Estuary.
Jacqueline Tyrie took this snap while walking her dog along the Thames Path near Stevenage Park, Fulham around 8am.
She said: I saw a movement on the water and thought it was a cormorant bird, as they are often seen further up the river between the Crabtree public house and Hammersmith Bridge, but unusual for where I was at the time. I was so surprised when this little seal popped his head out of the water having just caught an enormous fish.
Tony Wileman, conservation ecologist for London Wildlife Centre, told the Chronicle the sighting is rare but not uncommon, with around six to 10 seals venturing upstream each year. But it is unusual for sea animals to swim as far up as Hammersmith as the salty water will soon become fresh water at Teddington Lock a few miles away in Richmond.
Mr Wileman said: The reasons why seals come up the river are completely unknown. Seals navigate through the water like many other marine mammals using sonar and other similar electrical waves from water - its how they hunt fish. But when they get near boats they can get disorientated and go upstream rather than go back down to the sea.
Some times you get dolphins or whales who come up the Thames from out in the North Sea.
But he added: Im sure hell be fine. Hes just enjoying himself finding fish more easily in the narrow river.
Update: Jamie Hughes, aged 12, also spotted the Thames seal while out with his family. This is his footage: