Named as ‘Freddie Mercury’ after the late Queen singer, a seal won the hearts of local residents frolicking on the River Thames near Hammersmith Bridge in west London. 


It was first spotted ‘wobbling’ up a ramp to avoid high tides in March, and returned to the same area every day since. The seal kept itself busy by taking dips in the water and greeting adoring fans over the last five days whilst sunbathing on the banks. 


Both grey seals and harbour seals are known to be spotted in the Thames, but it is unusual for one to come back to the same spot and go this far up the Thames. Photographer Broni Lloyd-Edwards, said she has seen seals from afar before – but to see one close-up was a ‘very special’ experience.


A spokesperson for the RSPCA mentioned: ‘It is not unusual for seals to find their way into harbours or rivers such as the Thames and they have been known to travel inland quite some distance. They are often just looking for more food and generally they find their way out to sea again.’


In a time of vulnerability and uncertainty for everyone, Freddie became a ray of hope to passersby of all ages and quickly became a local celebrity in West London. Some people would do the route everyday in order to see Freddie and just watching him boosted their morale during what has arguably been the toughest lockdown of the three. 

On Sunday 21 of March, tragically, ‘Freddie’ was brutally mauled by a terrier dog. Freddie has since had to be put down by vets after suffering a broken flipper in the attack. The decision was made after it became apparent that he could not be released back into the wild given the seriousness of his injuries. Farewell Freddie – you gave so many joy at a bleak time.