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Waipu Cove gets seal of approval

 

leopard seal 1-50This unusual visitor to Waipu Cove was snapped last week by local woman Robyn Davies while on an early morning jog along the beach.

DOC officers confirmed it was a leopard seal with a normal habitat in the Antarctic. Auckland and Campbell Islands are known to have leopard seals annually and the mainland regularly receives visitors but they don't tend to come this far north.

Despite its appearance the leopard seal is built for speed. It is easily identified by its long slim body and comparatively large fore-flippers. The disproportionately large head, massive jaws, impressive teeth and tremendous gape giving it a snake-like appearance. In colour, the leopard seal shades from almost black to almost blue on the flank, hence the name.

While the sex of this visitor was not established, adult females can grow to a length of 3.6m and weight more than 300kg, larger than their male counterparts.

Leopard seals are protected under the Wildlife Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act but DOC is not currently involved with any work specifically related to the animal.

 
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