A celebrity seal has died two weeks after losing her baby pup.
Rusty the seal became the talk of the town after arriving in Newhaven Harbour three months ago.
Upset admirers have taken to social media to pay tribute to the aquatic mammal after her carcass was spotted yesterday morning.
A post-mortem could be carried out but a marine expert ruled out death by broken heart.
Martin Sinnock, of the British Divers Marine and Life Rescue, suspects toxicity from diesel that had leaked into the harbour.
He said: “Every day she would lie on the mud and she became quite a celebrity.
“Everyone in the town loved her.
“But it was a shame because fishermen were slinging fish to her so she got lazy and fat.
“I saw one fisherman massaging her belly which I didn’t think was right.
“If she took a bite it could take your finger off and they carry a lot of infectious diseases.
“Wild animals need to be out in the ocean otherwise they become too tame and they forget how to hunt. You shouldn’t pander to them.
He added: “Everybody will be very sad.
"Mortality in the wild is extraordinarily high and offspring die all the time. Rusty may have moped around for a few days but I don’t think she had a broken heart
"Personally I loved paddle-boarding alongside Rusty, but you have to remember she was a wild animal. She’s been and gone and I’m sure there will be many others.
"People get affectionate about seals because they’re cute. When her pup died there were women sobbing.
"I thought for Christ’s sake, animals die every day in nature. Poeple don’t give a moment’s thought to the hundreds of fish Rusty has been chomping and sloshing about every day.
"In the end you've got to be realistic and say its another dead animal."