Tutukaka Harbour leopard seal Owha snapped enjoying her fresh-fish diet

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Owha, the leopard seal who has taken up residence in Tutukaka Harbour, dines out al fresco on a fresh-fish dish. Photo/Tyrie Starrs
Owha, the leopard seal who has taken up residence in Tutukaka Harbour, dines out al fresco on a fresh-fish dish. Photo/Tyrie Starrs

An Australian visitor to Northland's beautiful coastline has snapped an Antarctic visitor dining out on fresh fish.

Owha, a 300kg-leopard seal, has made the fish-filled waters of Tutukaka her home for the last few weeks.

For keen photographer and Australian Department of the Environment worker Tyrie Starrs the chance to get a photo of the 3m-long seal was a rare opportunity.

He and his wife Lora were in Tutukaka on their honeymoon to visit Poor Knights Islands, and saw on the Dive Tutukaka Facebook page that a leopard seal had been spotted.

"We spent several hours over two days watching from the marina as the seal hunted fish around the markers," Mr Starrs said.

"We were watching when a small boat pulled up at the marina and we asked if we could be taken out for a closer look.

The skipper of the boat was very nice and we spent probably half an hour watching Owha fishing around the markers."

The newlyweds are now in Tahiti.

The female seal has been a visitor to the Northland coastline for the past two years and turned up at Tutukaka on March 6.

Leopard seals are a protected species normally found in Antarctica. However, Owha has spent the past 20 months living along the east coast of Northland and Auckland.

DoC ranger Dr Krista Hupman warned the seal should not be approached.

"The key to watching this seal safely is to keep your distance, at least 20m away, and don't startle her. If you do find yourself closer than 20m from her, stay calm and quietly move away.

"Also avoid getting in between the seal and the water. Keep children and dogs away from the seal and under control and do not feed her," said Dr Hupman.

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