NSW residents warned: beware the Fur Seal
THE New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service is reminding residents to be 'seal aware' as once again, the Australian Fur Seal takes up residence in Merimbula.
NPWS Ranger George Malolakis said seals often moved into the Merimbula estuary at this time of year due to the rich food source available there.
But they don't always appreciate human visitors.
"Seals are wild animals and this one has already bitten somebody.
"Fortunately they did not require stitches but they were taken to hospital for assessment," Mr Malolakis said.
"For everyone's sake, the seal included, it's best to prevent another altercation. We hope it will eat its fill and move on to a less populated spot soon, but it could hang around for weeks or months.
"Stay seal aware if you're near the water and even at other times. Seals can travel many kilometres inland and up river systems.
"The NSW approach distances are no closer than 40 metres to a seal when the animal is on land. In the water, do not approach closer than 10 metres and stay at least 80 metres from seal pups at all times.
"Seals can move very quickly on land and have sharp teeth. Dogs must be kept on leads and people must adhere to the approach distances."
If you are concerned about this seal or any marine mammal please call NPWS or ORRCA, the licensed volunteers at the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia, on 9415 3333.
Australian Fur Seal populations are gradually recovering from the unlimited commercial hunting that began in 1800 for their oil, meat and skins.
More than 200,000 animals were hunted before they became protected in 1974 under the National Parks & Wildlife Act.