Huge Seal Washes Up On Bondi Beach, Prompting Big Police Response
Bondi Beach gets millions of visitors each year -- but not usually ones of such heft, girth or toothiness.
The iconic beach in Sydney's eastern suburbs was graced with the presence of an enormous leopard seal on Wednesday, the unexpected visitor taking its place on the sand to take advantage of the pleasant winter sunshine.
Other beachgoers quickly crowded around the large interloper on the northern end of the shoreline, looking on curiously as the hefty boy took it easy.
The North Bondi RSL Club posted a photo on Twitter showing a group of swimmers standing just metres from the seal, which seemed like it couldn't care less about being the beach's new centre of attention.
Laying on its back at the water's edge, rolling around and snoozing in the sun, the seal looked pretty happy to be spending a lazy afternoon on the sand.
But police and marine rescue volunteers were concerned, considering the leopard seal is one of the top predators and most ferocious seals in the ocean.
They largely stick to a diet of penguins and fish, but there were fears the seal might take a chomp out of -- for instance -- an unwary sunburnt British backpacker.
"Volunteers rushed to the beach, concerned about the danger to the public," NSW police said on Wednesday afternoon.
"ORRCA [the Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia] contacted officers from the Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command and advised them about the risk posed by the seal to members of the public."
Police attended and established a 50-metre exclusion zone around the seal on the sand, with the Bondi lifesaver crew also helping to keep back a large curious crowd milling around the visitor.
"The seal did not appear to be in distress and remains in the care of animal welfare officers," police advised.
It's unclear how long the seal will remain loitering on Bondi Beach.