FANS of Keith the Seal can breathe a sigh of relief after the marine mammal was spotted downstream following months of no sightings.

The city’s favourite flippered-friend was filmed by stand-up paddle boarders swimming in the River Severn just below Gloucester on Saturday.

Keith, who is thought to be a female, had not been seen since January when she was spotted in Tewkesbury prompting fears that something had happened to her.

Believing she was depleting fish stocks, the Angling Trust applied for a licence to shoot the seal but amid much uproar they struck a deal with British Divers Marine Life Rescue to relocate the animal instead.

Nothing was heard from Keith until Tristan Bawn filmed the seal playfully nibbling at his inflatable paddle board and swimming happily beside them at the weekend.

He posted the footage on the Facebook page for his charity efforts Source 2 Sea 2013 and it quickly went viral.

Excited messages and comments were sent from people in Worcester and Bewdley telling the 34-year-old all about Keith.

Mr Bawn, from Bristol, said: “I heard a surfacing noise thinking it sounded like a seal and when I turned around there literally was a seal about a foot behind my board.

“She was very confident and was playfully grabbing the paddle, pulling on the leash and trying to nibble the board.

“Once we posted the video we had hundreds and hundreds of comments from people and that’s when we heard about Keith.

“I checked the seal in our footage and the pictures of the seal on the Save Keith the Seal Facebook page and the markings are the same on both animals.”

Lisa Ventura from Lower Wick, administrator of the Save Keith the Seal page, said lots of messages had been left on the page asking about the mammal’s whereabouts.

“When Keith hadn’t been seen for a little while I was very worried about her but judging by the recording she is very happy and safe.

“I think it was such an unusual thing for Worcestershire it has become a nice story to follow among all the doom and gloom.

“People in Worcester have really taken her to their hearts so I think they will be glad to see that she is still in the river and seems to enjoy it there.”