Margate RNLI called out in gale force winds for ‘object’ sighting later revealed to be a seal

Margate RNLI all-weather lifeboat 'Leonard Kent' at sea (RNLI Margate)

Margate’s volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew put to sea in storm force weather conditions today (February 9) to investigate a report of an object in the water off North Foreland.

UK Coastguard received a call from a member of the public around 2pm reporting a sighting of a black object in the sea around 800m off Whiteness Point, Kingsgate Bay and two miles east of Margate harbour.

The south coast was in the grip of storm Ciara at the time with sustained winds of around 55mph on the coast and gusts of up to 70mph recorded further offshore.

Margate Coastguard Rescue Team was tasked to investigate and were able to confirm the sighting but due to the bad weather conditions unable to establish what the object was. Margate’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat was asked to investigate and in challenging weather conditions began a search of the area guided by coastguard officers ashore.

After a short time, and with a degree of relief a seal was spotted and in consultation with coastguards ashore it was agreed that this was the original object sighted. After a further search of the area the lifeboat was released and returned to station.

Nick Smith, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate Lifeboat said: “Given the atrocious weather conditions there was real concern this could have been a serious incident. Fortunately, it was a false alarm and we would like to thank those who called the coastguard, we are always prepared to investigate what could be a false alarm rather than assume as such and delay response to a genuine distress situation. If anyone sees anything suspicious at sea or on the coastline dial 999 and ask for coastguard.”