A fur seal estimated to be almost twice the size of a person has been spotted on Leisure Island (Moturiki).
A SunLive reader snapped some pics of the animal today while out taking photographs of the stormy weather.
The reader, who wishes remain anonymous, says they were taking photos of the waves crashing against the rocks on Leisure Island when they came face to face with the fur seal, which they describe as appearing twice their size.
Male fur seals can grow up to two metres long and weigh up to 250kg.
The reader quickly turned around and legged it, pausing at a safe distance to take photos of the seal with a zoom lens.
Another six smaller seals, possibly females, have been spotted on the shore and diving in and out of the water.
A Department of Conservation spokesperson says as long as the seal isn’t in danger, or endangering others, it’s best to ‘leave it be’.
“But if anything changes and the seal is being threatened, please call our hotline on 0800 DOC HOT.”
Fur seals have been popping up at the Mount and surrounding areas lately, with a local spotting a ‘surfing’ seal at Omanu last week.
It’s not uncommon to see fur seals around the base track of Mauao, either.
According to DoC’s conservation blog, from August to September, fur seal, or kekeno, pups begin to wean as their mothers prepare for new pups. This means a number of ‘curious adolescent kekeno’ will begin appearing on New Zealand’s shores.
DoC says it’s important to remember fur seals are a wild animal, and while they may look cute and cuddly, they can be very aggressive when threatened.
“We advise to stay at least 20 metres away at all times. Handling can also be very stressful for the animal, and moving very young pups away from where the mother has left it makes it very difficult for them to reunite.
“Someone once picked up a young pup from a South Island shore and took it on the ferry to the vet on the North Island. Sadly, this animal had to be put down because it was too young to survive on its own and its mother would never be able to reunite with it.”