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George's Lake resident believes it was otters and not seals that were seen in the lake

George's Lake
George's Lake - Diane Crocker

A George’s Lake man has a different idea of what it was that a Corner Brook man saw in the lake while fishing there recently.

Last week Ed O’Brien said he and two other people spotted three seals in the lake and he was concerned about the impact the animals would have on salmon and trout stocks in the lake.

Peter Blanchard has been living at George’s Lake for eight years, and his family has had a cottage there for more than 40 years.

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Corner Brook man concerned for salmon stocks after spotting three seals in George's Lake

He has never seen a seal in the lake, but he’s seen plenty of otters and that is what he believes O’Brien saw.

“They live in little ponds around the lake and now and then they’ll come out to the lake. There’s a good few of them out there.”

The numbers, he said, could be attributed to that fact that people aren’t trapping like they used to.

He also doesn’t think the otters are doing any more damage to the salmon and trout stocks in the lake than they ever have.

“They’re mainly up in their ponds and they’re eating trout like crazy.”

He mostly sees otters when they come through in the winter. He said they’ll often come up over the hill and he’ll see the trail they leave sliding down with a paw print here or there where they pushed themselves along.

Blanchard can’t see a seal travelling the more than 30 kilometres along the winding river to get to the lake.

The water conditions along Harry’s River can often be low and would be difficult for a seal to move over. You can’t go up or down it on a kayak, he said.

He said sightings of seals in Codroy and even the Humber River are different.

In Codroy he said they are only several kilometres up and the Humber River has many feet of water of travel in.

“He’s not scraping himself across rocks and trying to go from pool to pool because the salmon are steady jumping the ledges all the way up Harry’s River.”

A seal coming from Gut Bridge out in the Stephenville Crossing area would also have to contend with the rising altitude.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not been to George’s Lake to confirm the sighting of seals in the area and it has not received reports of seals in this area previously.

In an emailed statement, the department said: “While it is not common for seals to be in rivers, we know that seals, particularly harbour seals, do swim from the ocean to freshwater rivers in many places.

“This has been reported in Newfoundland many times. … Also, there are populations of seals that live in freshwater in northern Quebec and, possibly, northern Labrador.

“The population in Quebec is completely land-locked. The seals in northern Labrador appear to have access to the ocean, however, it is not known how much of their time is spent in fresh versus salt water.”

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