A seal from Antarctica sighted at an Auckland beach yesterday has prompted warnings from conservation officials for the public keep a safe distance.
The 2m leopard seal was spotted by a resident at the northern end of Eastern Beach, near Musick Pt, at 6am.
It had recently been seen in several locations including Herne Bay last week and at Kakakawa Bay in eastern Auckland seven weeks ago, said Department of Conservation Auckland marine ranger Martin Stanley.
While they may appear to pose no threat, leopard seals can become aggressive if agitated and can lunge powerfully and quickly.
Mr Stanley urged anyone who saw the seal to stay at least 20m away and not disturb it.
"Leopard seals are bigger and more aggressive than New Zealand fur seals. People must keep well away from the one appearing on beaches in the Auckland area," he said.
"Always remember, do not get between a seal and its access to water and keep dogs well away and on a lead."
Leopard seals normally live on the edge of the Antarctic and around subantarctic islands and Mr Stanley said it was rare to have one in Auckland waters.