Village store owner plans to rescue wayward seal stranded at Broads’ marina

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is h

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 Benbow - Credit: Archant

A Ludham village store owner hopes to take advantage of evening’s high tides to rescue a stranded seal from a Norfolk Broads’ marina.

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is h

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 Benbow - Credit: Archant

David Benbow, owner of The Big Shop convenience store on Womack Staithe, was surprised last Thursday to find a wayward seal climbing inflatable kayaks at his private moorings.

He said: “We’ve seen a lot at Womack Staithe but never a seal.

“This one made its way to the Staithe on August 20 and grabbed the attention of boaters by trying to climb on the inflatable kayaks - nearly knocking a woman over in the process.

“It literally just appeared out of nowhere and was clearly trying to find somewhere to rest.

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is h

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is hoping to rescue this evening It came out of nowhere and tried to jump on one of the marina's inflatable kayaks - much to this boater's surprise. Photo: David Benbow - Credit: Archant

“It’s now taken up residence in our private marina, and I’ve been out here feeding it for the last few days and making sure it’s okay.

“I’m in touch with East Winch Wildlife Centre. We believe it is one of theirs that they’ve recently rescued and released, and then from there it’s just got a bit lost and confused - and ended up here.

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“The kayak it has currently made home belongs to a private boater in our marina who has kindly let us borrow it. Up until that point the seal was using members of the public’s paddle boards and kayaks as a place to get some rest.

“Each night, the seal swims out of our boatyard but always retreats back to our yard as it’s private, secure and above all else, quiet.”

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is h

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 Benbow - Credit: Archant

Mr Benbow added: “It’s ever so tame and gentle - and isn’t bothered by my presence at all. At the minute it’s drawing the crowds.”

Mr Benbow was set to try and encourage his shop’s aquatic addition back into the main river and on its way to Yarmouth on Monday night.

He said: “We’re hoping to perform a rescue using this evening’s high tide. I’m doing it with a couple of good friends with advice from East Winch and the coastguard. They can’t do the rescue themselves as the don’t have insurance on the water to cover their team.

“I’m hoping to tow the seal laid in the inflatable and failing that, I’m going to get it to swim alongside my boat.

Womack Staithe has been joined by a seal since last Thursday, which Big Shop owner David Benbow is h

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 Benbow - Credit: Archant

“Both options will involve lots of encouragement and lots of fish.”