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Public urged to stay away from elephant seal at Sorrento Beach

Public urged to stay away from elephant seal at Sorrento Beach

The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) is urging people to stay away from a southern elephant seal that came ashore at Sorrento Beach in Perth’s northern suburbs today.

Parks and Wildlife officer Matt Swan said the sub-adult male which weighs an estimated 2000kg had most likely spent a long period hunting in the water and was using a haul-out period to rest on the beach.

“We are asking beach-goers not to approach the seal and to keep their dogs on leads as seals’ behaviour can be very unpredictable,” Mr Swan said.

“If it is harassed by people trying to get too close, it may feel threatened and react aggressively.

“Seals can inflict a nasty bite similar to that of a large dog so it is important to keep a safe distance of at least 30m and not get in between them and the water.”

Parks and Wildlife last year received reports of four southern elephant seals coming ashore on the south-coast and one sub-adult male reported on Carnac Island.

Southern elephant seals are large ocean-going mammals with males having a large proboscis (nose). They can weigh up to 3000kg. They are generally found in waters around subantarctic islands and while it is unusual for one to haul out this far north, there have been previous occurrences. Records go back a number of years with one particular incident of a large male that hauled out in the Exmouth area and remained there for five years.

To report any sick or injured animals, contact DPaW’s Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

A Marine Wildlife of Southern WA Identification Guide is available for download from www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/marinewildlife. This guide has been produced by Parks and Wildlife with support from Exxon Mobil.

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 13:50