IT seems Keith the seal may be taunting her potential captors as she lounges around Upton Marina – the home of Mercia Inshore Search and Rescue (MISAR).

Lying on her back seemingly without a care in the world, the plucky seal raises a paw in the air as if to say “catch me if you can”.

Obviously, the female seal is unaware of the continuing furore surrounding her presence in the river Severn with the battle lines drawn between those who believe she should be captured and returned to the sea and those who would rather leave her alone.

In November, MISAR and the British Divers Marine Life Trust were instructed by the Angling Trust to capture Keith and release her into the sea after the trust was granted a licence from Natural England. 

However, the female seal evaded capture and the plans were put on hold because the locks were shut for two weeks and have yet to be resumed.

MISAR chair David Walker was unavailable to comment yesterday about when the efforts to capture the marine mammal would continue.

Almost 3,000 people have so far signed a petition asking the trust to abandon the capture attempts.

While the conflict rumbles on, Keith has continued to be spotted along the river Severn. On Saturday, she greeted the new boss of Northwick Marina after popping up alongside the boats.

Mike Fernandes, of Sinton Green, took over the marina on January 1 and was astounded to be greeted by the city’s most notorious resident.

As he took a customer to look at a boat, assistant manager Jules Knott spotted the female seal in the waters off Neweys Hill.

Mr Knott, of Greenford Gardens, Worcester, said: “We were all in awe, you don’t get to see something like that every day and in such close surroundings too.”

Yesterday the Angling Trust said it remained “entirely committed” to capturing Keith and returning her to the sea.

In a statement the trust said it was working with the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) animal rescue charity to remove Keith in order to protect both her and endangered fish stocks in the river.