Leopard seal surprises Auckland beachgoers

Leopard seals have a ferocious set of teeth used to snatch penguins and fish.
SIMON MAUDE/STUFF

Leopard seals have a ferocious set of teeth used to snatch penguins and fish.

A leopard seal has changed his spot, amusing Auckland beachgoers.

Rarely seen in the upper Waitemata, the estimated 200 kilogram juvenile seal sunned itself in a small cove in Kauri Domain Park in Birkenhead.

Onlookers had to be wary, the carnivorous seal blended in well with large chunks of driftwood on the beach.

Eric Anderson has swum at Kauri Point all his life and has never before encountered a leopard seal.
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

Eric Anderson has swum at Kauri Point all his life and has never before encountered a leopard seal.

Jetskiers coasting in to the beach veered away at the last moment when they spotted the sunbathing creature.

Longtime beach swimmer and Birkdale resident Eric Anderson says it's "a bit novel" having the seal visit.

"But I wasn't surprised, little penguins get up to the beach occasionally, it's probably why it's here, he's on his OE."

The slumbering leopard seal gets a wide berth.
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

The slumbering leopard seal gets a wide berth.

Department of Conservation senior ranger Yuin Khai Foong says it's difficult to tell the sex of the "rare but not unusual visitor" leopard seal.

It's the fourth leopard seal sighting in six months in the upper harbour, he says.

Comfortable on land and sea the Kauri Point seal is just "chilling out" on the beach.

The juvenile leopard seal weighing an estimated 200 kilograms could grow to 600kg.
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

The juvenile leopard seal weighing an estimated 200 kilograms could grow to 600kg.

Leopard seals hunt fish and birds, including penguins, but people should keep a safe distance from the predators, he says.

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"It is a wild animal, they have rear-facing teeth and latch onto their prey and shake them," the ranger says.

"People should keep dogs on a leash and stay at least 20 metres away."

 - Stuff

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