Authorities have issued a warning after a rogue seal became a viral sensation when it was filmed wandering the streets of a seaside town in Victoria.
The male southern elephant seal attracted a large crowd of onlookers after it made its way onto land at Point Lonsdale, south-east of Geelong, on Friday.
Locals have identified the seal as “Henry”, who is known to have visited various beaches in the area for over a decade.
In footage widely circulated on social media, Henry can be seen disrupting traffic as he flops down the street after he makes his way ashore.
Another video shows Henry attempt to enter a BP service station where he reportedly broke two windows before he was escorted back to sea by conservationists and police.
The Victorian conservation regulator said a seal of similar appearance has now been spotted at Blairgowrie beach on the Mornington Peninsula.
The sighting has prompted the regulator to issue a fresh warning to onlookers who are hoping to get a snap of the region’s latest local attraction.
“We know it’s exciting to see such large and unique animals on our beaches, but a photo or video opportunity is not worth risking yours or a seal’s safety,” said chief conservation regulator Kate Gaven.
“We were disappointed to see people get so close to the elephant seal at Point Lonsdale last week and we don’t want to see repeat behaviour in Blairgowrie or with any other seals resting on beaches along the coast.”
The regulator reminded Victorians seals are known to visit and rest on beaches, and can become defensive if approached.
People are advised to keep at least 30 metres distance at all times, or 50 metres if accompanied by a dog.