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Elephant seal pays a rare visit

10 December 2010

Elephant seal pays a rare visit

A female southern elephant seal/ihupuku is paying South Canterbury a rare visit and has been seen several times over the last month from the Waitaki River to Waihao Lagoon.

Department of Conservation (DOC) ranger, Steve Harraway, is pleased to see this declining species in the area but asks the public to remember that the seal is a wild animal.

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“People need to be respectful and keep at least 10 metres away, ensuring they don’t get between the seal and the sea. This is even more important at this time of year as she is likely to be ashore to moult which may take up to a month to complete,” says Steve.

Elephant seals are the largest species of seal and adult males have a distinctive inflatable proboscis (snout).

“Reports suggest she is around three metres long and could weigh up to 900 kg – a good size for a female,” says Steve. “She may be big but she’ll be able to move surprisingly fast!”

“Male elephant seals can grow to a whopping 3,600 kg - that’s heavier than the average SUV!”

DOC is encouraging the public to report sightings to the 24-hour DOC HOT line: 0800 DOCHOT or 0800 362 468

More information on southern elephant seals can be found on the DOC website: www.doc.govt.nz


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