Perfect footprints on beach spark curious mystery about Aussie bird

After spotting them on the weekend, one beachgoer was eager to find out exactly what animal had left them behind.

A man's hand placed beside the large footprint on the sand at Sisters Beach.
Footprints found on Sisters Beach in Tasmania sparked excitement as Aussies guessed what animal they belong to. Source: Facebook

Large footprints of a mystery animal found 50 metres along a beach this weekend sparked excitement as Aussies wondered and gussed who they could belong to.

A Tasmanian resident was walking along Sisters Beach along the state's northern coastline when he came across the footprints, which were roughly the same size as his hand, and snapped a picture for fellow residents eager to solve the mystery.

Many were quick to make suggestions online, with geese and swans shortlisted as the potential artist of the indentations.

"This page was recommended by a friend to help us identify this footprint," the beachgoer wrote. "Who ever made it walked at least 50 metres along the beach. My guess is, it's the extremely rare Tasmanian Cassowary," he added, in a seemingly tongue-in-cheek joke.

While some delighted at the thought of seeing such a striking native bird taking a stroll down the beach, others were more earnest in their guesses.

"I’d go with Australian Pelican - lowest print shows webbing," one local wrote. "Someone suggested Cape Barren Goose .. I think probably too large for that species".

"Maybe even an albatross in a rare landing?" another offered.

Footprints on the sand (left) and a pelican spotted in the distance near the water's edge (right).
A pelican was sighted near the footprints on Monday morning, with Aussies satisfied the mystery had been solved. Source: Facebook

Despite admitting the idea of discovering a cassowary in Tasmania would be thrilling, Dr Eric Woehler removed any doubt the footprints could possibly belong to a 'Tasmanian Cassowary' as the bird has never been in the state.

"Cassowaries are a tropical bird and they're found in northern Queensland like Cape York, places up there," the researcher from BirdLife Australia told Yahoo News. "They're not a species that have ever existed in Tasmania."

He explained there were once Tasmanian emus, a smaller version of the mainland emu, but they went extinct with the arrival of settlers in the 1800s. Other than those, the only other flightless bird which has called the state its home is a penguin — yet those are not responsible for the footprints in question.

"You can see the three toes on the foot, the impression is way too big for a gull and it's unlikely an albatross was walking around the beach. It's almost certainly a pelican," he concluded, agreeing with many Aussie in the comments section.

Also on Monday morning, a pelican was spotted near the boat ramp at Sisters Beach, satisfying curious Aussies that the mystery had been solved.

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