Leop­ard seal takes over

Central Leader - - MILESTONES - CATRIN OWEN

A leop­ard seal is mak­ing her pres­ence well-known in the Waitem­ata Har­bour, mak­ing Westhaven Ma­rina her home and be­com­ing some­what of a nui­sance.

The Na­tional In­sti­tute of Wa­ter and At­mo­sphere (Niwa) Auck­land’s ma­rine biose­cu­rity team had to called off a dive for the Min­istry of Pri­mary In­dus­tries as a pre­cau­tion.

Seals are known to be ag­gres­sive to hu­mans.

Niwa ma­rine ecol­ogy tech­ni­cian An­drew Miller says they will let the seal move on be­fore at­tempt­ing to do the dive again.

‘‘We de­cided to not as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure as they’ve been known to be ag­gres­sive and they’re quite big beasts with sharp teeth.’’

Leop­ard seals are big mam­mals and nor­mally found along the edge of the Antarc­tic.

Miller says the seals are known to oc­ca­sion­ally swap the icy tem­per­a­tures of the Antarc­tic and come up to the warmer wa­ters of New Zealand.

The fe­male seal has been quite happy swim­ming through the Waitem­ata Har­bour and has been up to St He­liers.

Miller says the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion has been mon­i­tor­ing the seal closely and asks mem­bers of the pub­lic to not touch the seal but take a pic­ture and send it in to mon­i­tor her lo­ca­tion.

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