West Chiltington photographer’s seal of approval

Seal in the River Arun
Seal in the River Arun

A keen amateur photographer from West Chiltington has given his seal of approval to the River Arun after catching a picture of a rather unexpected visitor.

Dave Frohock, 57, thought something fishy was going on when a ripple in the water distracted him during his walk along the riverbank at South Stoke near Amberley on Friday, September 20 - but he didn’t expect what came next.

Seal in the River Arun

Seal in the River Arun

“I then saw what looked like a fish rise and I thought I’d sit down and watch this for a few minutes and in about half a minute a seal was on the end of this fish,” explained Dave.

“It was quite something. I was thrilled, I was quite surprised and I had to look twice.”

The computer engineer, who works in Horsham, spotted the grey seal at around 6pm after originally being at the location to take pictures of barn owls.

“I know barn owls get around that area and I know that this year they’ve been in decline,” he continued.

“Fortunately I had the camera ready and I took a few snaps.

“The seal hung around for about an hour and I hung around for about an hour until dusk when I gave up and went home. It was quite content to sit around there watching me, watch it. I was very very lucky.”

Steve Savage, the Sussex regional coordinator for the Seawatch Foundation, explained that this particular seal that Dave photographed had been seen feeding on marine fish at Ford and Littlehampton.

“The most reoccurring seals we get are commons just because there are more in this area,” explained Steve.

“We have a common seal that has been visiting the river Ouse (East Sussex) for many years and other seals take up temporary residence.

“The fact that this is a grey seal is a bit more unusual because we get them more on the West Coast and rocky shores.”

He added that these ‘river’ seals do tend to stay within the tidal part of a river.

Dave has been back to the location since, where he enjoys taking images of sunsets and wildlife, but had yet to catch another glimpse of the seal: “I haven’t seen it again, I don’t know whether it moved upstream or downstream. It will probably hang around because it’s got a good source of food.”

The photographer has also been enjoying taking pictures around the Knepp Castle Estate, West Grinstead, and Parham House in Pulborough to capture more common 
Sussex wildlife including deer.

“It’s just an excuse for me to go out for a walk but instead of a dog I take a camera,” he said.