Elephant seal makes himself at home in Oamaru

It's 7.30am. You’re a young elephant seal coming in from a hard weekend of diving and eating fish.

What better place to spend a day in recovery than a nook of warm rocks beside the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony?

It has been 16 years since an elephant seal was spotted playing off the coast in Oamaru, but yesterday one large pinniped came ashore and put his large stores of fat on display for an entire day.

What you lookin’ at? Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony environment team leader Henry Elsom peers down at...
What you lookin’ at? Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony environment team leader Henry Elsom peers down at a juvenile elephant seal (below) at the colony. PHOTOS: WYATT RYDER
The behemoth shocked and wowed residents and tourists alike. Aside from a few yawns and a bit of jiggling around, he barely moved throughout the day.

Penguin Colony environment team leader Henry Elsom said the young seal was relatively small and probably only weighed about 1000kg, whereas mature males could grow to 4000kg.

Aside from his weight, a key indicator of his youth was the lack of a proboscis, the "long dangly bit" on the seal’s nose.

He had likely travelled from Macquarie Island, halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica, where a large colony lives.

He was first seen at Bushy Beach on Sunday night.

Elephant seals could dive up to 800m and spent most of their life at sea.

Although all of the regular fur seals scattered upon his arrival, the young seal would not be strong enough to intimidate members of his own species and be allowed to mate.

The biggest and strongest males held a harem and the visitor would not have a chance to breed for at least a couple of years.

The seal looked "pretty comfortable" and would probably still be there this morning, Mr Elsom said.

He did not expect the seal to make any trouble for the penguins when they returned to nest in the evening.

The last time an elephant seal was seen in the district was in 2018, when one decided to rest upstream of the Kakanui Bridge.