Leopard seals stop over at Caroline Bay
A second leopard seal has been spotted at Caroline Bay, joining one that arrived at the beach over the weekend.
The visitors have led to warnings from biologists and the council to stay clear and not harass the creatures.
Observers said the pair were about 200 metres apart on the beach on Tuesday.
A Department of Conservation spokesman identified both from photos as leopard seals.
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He explained the first seal looked darker in colour than the other seal because it was wet. He said they would likely eat seabirds such as shags, fish and the occasional penguin.
Female adult leopard seals can weigh up to 300kg, and males 270kg.
Usually found on the edge of Antarctic pack ice where they feast on penguins, young leopard seals move through the Southern Ocean in winter.
Oamaru marine biologist Dr Philippa Agnew did not think Timaru's little blue penguin colony was attracting them.
"They have been sighted along the Otago coastline a lot lately. We've had two at Oamaru recently."
The marine mammals are generally solitary and birth pups in the pack ice in November.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research cetacean biologist Dr Krista Hupman, who is conducting research into leopard seals, said it was not unusual for seals to visit different New Zealand beaches.
Reports of the first seal sighted on Saturday had been of it behaving naturally, she said.
"It is behaving normally, hauling out to sea and back in."
The seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1978) and members of the public are warned not to harass them and to keep at least 20 metres distance from them.
Hupman said she was interested in any sightings to gather data and research on where individual seals were going.
People who have sighted the leopard seals are asked to ring the hotline 0800 LEOPARD (0800 566 7273) and access the Leopard Seal Sightings Facebook page.
A Timaru District Council spokesman warned that they were wild animals that could cause serious harm to people.
"We would advise that people stay well clear of any seals on the beach, and that parents and supervisors ensure their children stay away."