Thames Seal Watch

Thames Seal Watch was established by a British Divers Marine Life Rescue medic following the fatal incident of the famous London seal, Freddie, in 2021, which had a significant impact on the community. The group aims to educate the public about Thames wildlife, promote safe seal encounters, and enhance rescue efforts. They provide talks, rescue kits, and educational materials to river-users such as rowing clubs, fostering conservation awareness and community pride.

June 2024

Harry's Hat Logo

Freddie, a young common seal affectionately called Freddie Mercury, gained popularity in London in early 2021 due to his playful behaviour in the Thames, captivating locals and  social media alike. Sadly, in March 2021, Freddie was severely injured by a dog, and despite rescue efforts, his wounds meant he had to be euthanised. His tragic death had a significant impact on the local community and underscored the importance of respecting wildlife and adhering to proper protocols in and around the Thames.

In response, Thames Seal Watch (TSW) was established by Mary, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) medic, who is now the Thames Area Co-ordinator for the BDMLR. The aim of TSW is to provide community education on the wildlife inhabiting the Thames, promote awareness of the proper code of conduct when encountering seals as sightings increase, and implement plans to facilitate quicker and easier rescues.

The ultimate goals are to prevent incidents, inspire citizen action in conservation efforts, and nurture a sense of pride in the local river and its resilience over the past 60 years.

TSW are currently delivering talks to adults and children participating in rowing clubs along the Thames. The talks educate river users about the native seal species, how to observe wildlife safely without causing disturbances, and the proper protocol for various marine mammal emergencies, and who to contact in different situations.

Each club that completes their program receives a seal rescue kit to help BDMLR medics respond to rescues more quickly, brochures to share with families and friends, and a poster with important contact numbers and information about seal code of conduct.

Additionally, each club is provided with a base sculpture of a Thames marine species (crafted from chicken wire) created by beach plastic artist Emily Barker. Members use materials commonly found during river clean-ups to create their own sculptures for public exhibition.

Funding for this project will help to fund a range of costs including seal rescue kits, communications, and sculpture project materials.

Being shortlisted made my day! What an honour!

So much work has gone into the making of Seal Watch and finally getting funding to support it means everything.

Thank you from all of the Freddie’s out there.

Mary Tester

Thames Area Co-ordinator for the BDMLR, and Founder of Thames Seal Watch

“I had a fascinating meeting with Mary, whose passion for marine wildlife was immediately evident. She has been running Thames Seal Watch since 2021, with plans to grow it into a Community Interest Company. Mary’s dedication is impressive; she advocates for seal protection alongside organizations like Seal Alliance and DEFRA and campaigns to educate the public on wildlife safety, such as “Say No to the O” to educate people on the dangers of frisbees with the whole in the middle.

As the Thames region coordinator for BDMLR, Mary has done an amazing job so far of highlighting the need for awareness to protect the 3,600 seals in the Thames. A grant from The John Good Group would be a welcome boost for this early-stage project that I hope would encourage further funding.”

Michelle Taft

Executive Director, Matthew Good Foundation

Latest Project Updates

July 2024

£2,000 Granted

After employees at the John Good Group voted for their favourite causes, Thames Seal Watch received a grant of £2,000.

June 2024

Grants for Good Finalist

Thames Seal Watch has become one of the top five finalists in the latest Grants for Good round, and will receive a grant between £2000 and £5000 after employees at the John Good Group have voted on their favourite causes.