You might have thought it was too cold for a snooze on the beach this morning, but this little dude, or dudette, begged to differ.
Several Gerringong residents embarking on an early morning walk along Werri Beach got a big surprise when they discovered a seal, believed to be a sub-Antarctic fur seal, occupying a patch of sand.
GALLERY: Fur seal takes a morning nap on Werri Beach
It is unclear when the seal arrived at the beach, but National Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Gabrielle Last said it was not uncommon for the animals to come ashore at this time of year.
‘‘He or she, we’re not sure which it is, is probably doing what we call ‘hauling out’, which means having a rest after a big feed or hunt,’’ Ms Last said.
‘‘This is normal behaviour for them and we’re seeing more and more around Sydney Harbour and along the coastline at this time or year.’’
But Ms Last warned residents and beach-goers to steer clear of the seal, saying it was against the law to be closer than 40m from the animal.
‘‘This is to keep them and us safe - remember this is a wild animal, it has sharp teeth, and they move very quickly over land,’’ she said.
‘‘People should also make sure their dogs are kept away too, and not try to feed it or splash water on it.
‘‘If anyone has concerns about the seal’s health, they should call National Parks and Wildlife.’’
Gerringong WIRES volunteer Dale Anderson, who arrived at the beach about 9am after receiving a call from a friend, said it was a rare sight indeed.
‘‘I’ve never been called out to one [a seal] before,’’ she said, although admitted, as a native New Zealander, she had seen a few when she lived there.
Ms Anderson said she wasn’t sure when the animal had arrived, or why it was there, but believed it was not in distress.
‘‘It didn’t seem to have any injuries, it just looked like it was resting,’’ she said.
‘‘It was very cute.’’