An Australian fur seal that was sunning itself at Rushcutters Bay Park in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has slipped into the harbour and is unlikely to return after council staff blocked its access back into the park.
The 100-kilogram male had been delighting passers-by as it napped by the waterfront in one of Sydney’s most affluent areas.
An area had been cordoned off by the City of Sydney parks staff so the seal could rest without being disturbed.
However, at about midday on Tuesday, the seal returned to the water at Rushcutters Bay.
A City Of Sydney spokesperson said barriers were set up “as a precaution to protect the seal and the public”.
“The barriers were also set up to encourage the seal to move away from the site, following advice from NSW National Parks,” the spokesperson added.
The animal was first sighted on Saturday, and had alternated between doing laps of the bay and napping.
Shona Lorigan, a volunteer with the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA), said the adult male had appeared to be in good health.
“He appears to be absolutely fine, but we are watching him very very closely,” she said.
“We continue to evaluate him every day he hauls out of the water … but nothing we have noted of concern.”
Ms Lorigan said he was probably just enjoying Sydney’s autumn weather.
“We suspect he will stay for a little bit and then move on.”
She urged residents of the picturesque, affluent suburb to keep their dogs on leash when walking through the park and keep themselves at a safe distance too.
“Keep fluffy safe but also the seal safe,” she said.
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“Seals have very sharp teeth and if they feel threatened, they will bite.”
Ms Lorigan said with “100 per cent” certainty the seal was not ‘Benny’ — commonly seen at the rear of the Opera House.
Seals love Sydney
Liam Prince lives nearby and saw the sleeping giant on Tuesday morning.
“I didn’t know seals even came this close to such busy areas,” he said.
“There were people sitting around waiting for it to move I think.
“It was pretty big. It flinched a little bit but it looked like it was just soaking up the sun, fast asleep.”
ORRCA volunteers have been checking in on the rather relaxed seal for the last few days, and have nicknamed it ‘Sealvester’.
Seal numbers are on the rise, with lots of regular sightings up and down the NSW coast after almost being hunted to extinction in the past.
ORRCA monitors several solitary seals in the harbour.
The closest breeding colony is on Montague Island, off Narooma.