Stardom appears to suit the elephant seal wallowing in Eastern Bay waters.
Affectionately named Momoa by locals, the summer visitor now has his own Facebook page with close to 500 members and is also on a "wanted to view" list of hundreds more who have expressed a desire to see the mammal up close.
Momoa, a juvenile male seal, was first photographed at Coastlands beach just before Christmas but has spent most of its time in and around the Whakatāne River.
Yesterday Momoa took a shine to a ute owned by Whakatāne Coastguard president Jim Williamson.
"I was out doing a bit of work on my boat and couldn't berth my dinghy when I'd finished because the seal was in the way," Williamson said. "He then took a shine to my truck and, as a result of his 'lovemaking', the truck ended up with a smashed tail-light and a few dented panels on one side."
He said explaining the incident to his insurance company was entertaining.
"My broker said it was the first time he'd dealt with damage sustained by elephant seal."
Williamson said the visiting seal was great for Whakatāne and agreed it appeared to like the limelight.
"When he was shunting my ute, he was on the side of the vehicle away from the crowd, but he'd stick his head up and smile at everyone before giving it another nudge."
Williamson spoke to a Department of Conservation ranger yesterday who said Momoa could hang around for two to three months or, could just as easily move on tomorrow.
The Momoa the Elephant Seal Facebook page is being used to monitor the seal's whereabouts so people are able to catch a glimpse of him.
"He's disappeared from the Yacht Club a couple of times but seems happy to go back at this stage," Williamson said.