A malnourished sub-antarctic fur seal too weak to fight ocean currents is calling Sydney’s Cronulla beach home while it fattens up for the long journey home.
The seal also known as Arctocephalus tropicalis is a rare visitor to the Australian mainland, living far south of Tasmania at places like Macquarie island.
Usually only one per year is sighted in Australia, generally south of Sydney, National Parks and Wildlife spokesman Geoff Ross told AAP.
Mr Ross was hopeful the sick seal, believed to be a pup, would recover and swim home, as an agreement with other Antarctic countries prohibits animals that have been rehabilitated by people from being reintroduced to the wild.
‘We will try not to intervene unless we feel in association with our veterinary advice that the animal requires intervention,’ he said.
Mr Ross said a New Zealand fur seal was found stranded on Cabarita beach in northern NSW last Saturday.
NSW parks and wildlife had determined the seal did not need help, but a well-meaning person took the animal to Sea World on the Gold Coast, inadvertently ensuring the female pup will be confined to the marine park for the rest of her days.
The seal was starved and dehydrated, but it would probably have recovered and returned home if left alone, Mr Ross said.
Mr Ross, who spent Thursday overseeing the removal of a dead humpback whale from Newport beach in Sydney’s north, travelled to Cronulla beach on Friday to assess the sub-antarctic visitor but could not locate it.
Rather than setting out for home, it was probably out fishing along the coast, he said.
‘I would have my money on the fact that it’s going to be around here for another two or three weeks,’ he said.