Leopard seal spotted holidaying at Mount Main Beach

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A young leopard seal has been holidaying at Mount Main Beach near Leisure Island.

The seal has been there since Sunday and has likely come ashore to moult.

A sign was erected in the sand near the seal warning people to keep their distance and Department of Conservation volunteers were at the beach to answer any questions.

In January, visitors were lining up at Tauranga Bridge Marina to take photos of leopard seal that was relaxing in the sun on the piers.

At the time, DoC marine species and threats team science adviser Laura Boren told the Bay of Plenty Times leopard seals were generally found around Antarctica but it was not uncommon to see them around the New Zealand mainland.

"At Kaikoura, maybe once a year, every other year, you might have a leopard seal haul itself out for a little while.

"You see them at other places around the South Island and sometimes in the North Island."

Ms Boren said sightings of leopard seals were not seasonally dependent and might have more to do with the age of the individual seal.

"If they are not a breeding animal, they can travel quite big distances and haul out to moult."

Ms Boren said leopard seals were one of the top three marine predators with massive heads and powerful jaws.

"They are the ones you want to stay away from."

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