Seal of approved by curious onlookers

Fascinated onlookers at Sorrento beach where a two-tonne elephant seal slid ashore this week were full of questions.

"How did he get here? Is he OK? Where did he come from? How long would he stay here?"

Department of Parks and Wildlife officers did their best to answer the queries.

"There are a number of factors that may have contributed to where he ended up, including strong currents, navigation and foraging a long way from home," DPAW senior wildlife officer Rick Dawson said.

CLICK BELOW TO VIEW REPLAY FROM PART OF TODAY'S SEAL CAM COVERAGE




"He is a long way from where he is meant to be. We had at least four reported last year, but this is the biggest one I've seen.

"He is from the sub-Antarctic Islands and they go out to sea and feed and come back to breed."

Mr Dawson said the creature could be on the beach for several days. He said the juvenile seal could double in size in his lifetime.

More than 200 people surrounded the creature, taking photographs as he snorted and flopped on the sand.

Wildlife department officials cordoned off the area after a man touched the seal on Wednesday afternoon.

The animal reared up as the man tapped him on the back, prompting officials to warn against approaching the seal.

Perth Zoo veterinarian Simone Vitali said elephant seals could become highly aggressive. "There are probably people on this beach who are not keen to go into the water because of sharks - I think they should be a lot more concerned about this animal," she said.

"They are a dangerous animal and it is important that people stay away and respect their boundaries."

Dr Vitali said the seal looked in good health and was happily basking on the sand.

"He is not stranded," she said. "This is normal behaviour for an elephant seal."

The seal moved up and down the beach regulating his temperature throughout the day.


The West Australian

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