Department of Parks adn Wildlife
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Community reminded to be careful of leopard seals

A leopard seal
A leopard seal Doug Coughran, DPaW

The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) is advising people to be careful of any leopard seals they may encounter on beaches along the State’s southern coast.

The advice follows the discovery of a leopard seal last week on a beach in Margaret River and another leopard seal on a beach in Denmark on the weekend, which had come ashore to rest with apparent injuries and returned to the water late on Saturday night. A leopard seal was also reported yesterday on the eastern end of Middleton Beach in Albany.

DPaW senior wildlife officer Doug Coughran said leopard seals were aggressive predators and posed a danger to people if they attempted to approach or touch them.

“Leopard seals have large jaws and long canines, and can reach up to 3.5m in length and weigh over 500kg. They can open their jaws widely and can inflict a very nasty bite that may become infected,” he said.

“If people encounter a leopard seal on the beach they should give it a wide berth and leave it alone for their own safety and the safety of the animal. These seals are generally resting temporarily and will move on when they have recovered.”

Mr Coughran said the department had recorded 42 sightings of leopard seals on popular beaches in the south-west since 1983.

“These seals have a strangely reptilian appearance with long, slender bodies, massive heads and tricusp teeth,” he said.

“They occur throughout the Southern Ocean and regularly visit southern Australia between July and November.

“Some years we do not receive any sightings, while other years we have had as many as eight reported sightings.”

If people come across an injured marine animal please call DPaW’s 24-hour Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

DPaW has recently released identification guides for marine life in WA’s south-west and north-west. The guides provide information on marine species, where they occur and what you should do if you find an injured marine animal. The guides, produced with the support of ExxonMobil, can be downloaded from DPaW’s website at www.dpaw.wa.gov.au

 

Media contact: DPaW Media 9219 9999

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dpawwa

Twitter: @WAPARKSWILDLIFE

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 August 2013 15:30