Large fur seal probably died of old age

THE National Parks and Wildlife Service believes a fur seal that has washed up on Comerong Island may have been dead for two to three days before ending up on the beach.

The service received reports of the two metre long dead male on the northern tip of Comerong Island near the entrance to Shoalhaven River on Thursday morning.

Justin Clarke from Shoalhaven Veterinary Clinic accompanied NPWS staff to the location to examine the dead marine mammal but said there was no obvious cause of death.

“It was an old male, one of the oldest I have seen,” said Mr Clarke, who has been involved in seal research for the past four years with the Phillip Island National Park and Parks Victoria, and is also an honorary researcher with the Macquarie University Marine Predators Research Group.

“It had minor body lesions which appear normally, as well as teeth marks from another seal and rock scrapings and cuts, but there was no obvious cause of death.

“While the animal was not particularly large, it was in good condition weighing between 150 and 180kg.

“We estimate seals’ ages in categories – pups, juvenile, breeding adults and older ones and this guy is definitely in the older scale.

“I would say it is an old male that has been staying away up here from the breeding colony and has passed away from natural causes.”

Island resident David Gribble spotted the seal during a walk along the beach early Thursday morning.

“He must have come in some time overnight, he was still pretty fresh, rigor mortis hadn’t set in,” he said.

“It was a bit of a surprise to see it washed up on the beach.” 

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