Sammy seal just taking in Shoalhaven rays

A NEW ZEALAND fur seal floating on its side with a flipper up in the air just west of the Shoalhaven River bridges has attracted plenty of attention.

The seal was spotted by passing walkers on Monday morning who raised the alarm with authorities, concerned the animal may have been in distress.

“We were walking and saw the seal just lying on its side with its flipper up in the air,” said Nowra woman Gail Pritchard.

“We thought it may have been caught on something. When we first saw it, it was lifting its head up out of the water a lot – the longer we watched the less it seemed to do it and we thought it might have been getting weaker.”

Ms Pritchard was joined by Joanne and Robert Taylor, of Bomaderry, who were also on their regular morning walk when they spotted the seal and contacted authorities.

ORCA volunteer Justin Macey attended the scene and observed the seal, reassuring the concerned onlookers the seal was just thermo regulating, a method the animals use to either cool or warm their bodies.

Orca vice-president Shona Lorigan said authorities, including the National Parks and Wildlife, have been aware of the seal in the river for a number of weeks.

“This is not unusual behaviour, they often come into places like the Shoalhaven River to feed and prepare for the season ahead,” she said.

“Thermo regulating is a very common behaviour and actually one of the best signs that the seal is actually in a healthy condition.

“They can do it for hours on end.

“From our point of view to see this seal doing this is good news.

“We aren’t sure if this seal is a male or female. But we know they can hang around for several weeks. They rest, feed and fatten up and then head back to their rookeries.

“We have several seals up and down the coast currently reported ding the same thing.”

Interested spectators are reminded that they must stay at least 40m away from a seal on land and 10m from the animals while on the water.

Unaware of all the fuss it was causing “Sammy” just continued to float down river, passing under the town’s twin bridges, occasionally lifting is head out of the water to breath and check out what was going on.

Anyone who may be concerned about injured marine animals can contact ORCA on its 24-hour number 9415 3333.

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