Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Sleep-deprived fur seal delights passersby during roadside nap in Dunedin

A sleepy fur seal proved a cute distraction for passersby on a waterfront Dunedin road this morning.

Police were called after the young male seal was spotted on a cyclepath next to Portsmouth Dr this morning.

Department of Conservation coastal Otago biodiversity ranger Jim Fyfe arrived soon after and coaxed the seal onto a grassed area away from traffic.

The seal's nap wasn't interrupted for long.

It was soon spotted snoozing on the grass as police and Fyfe chatted nearby.

And Fyfe had to return an hour later when the sleepy seal returned to the cyclepath.

This time Fyfe chased the seal back into nearby Otago Harbour - the third time in less than a week he had been called to move the seal on.

"I thought 'I've had enough of this' and sent it back down to the water. He was being quite well-behaved, but he may be a bit sleep-deprived. He's been in the upper harbour for about a week."

It was breeding season, Fyfe said, and the seal was probably trying to stay away from older male fur seals, who are territorial.

"Some of the younger ones will wisely be keeping out of the way. He'll be trying to stay clear of the action, maybe fatten up and maybe he can be in the contest in the next few years."

Fur seals were more flighty than aggressive, but people should stay at least 20 metres away as they can attack if they feel threatened or cornered.

In January, a young sea lion amused swimmers at St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool when it waddled through two sets of automatic doors, a reception area and a cafe to sun himself near the toddlers' pool, before taking a dip in the lap pool.

The sea lion eventually left the complex after a Department of Conservation officer and pool staff ushered patrons away so as to "bore" their show-off visitor.

- NZ Herald

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