Leopard seal encounter at Coffin Bay

A Coffin Bay woman had a surprise encounter with a leopard seal at Coffin Bay last weekend.

Bianca Parkyn encountered the juvenile seal, native to Antarctica, on the beach along the esplanade on Sunday morning.

Ms Parkyn said she became interested in leopard seals after seeing a National Geographic documentary a few years ago and always wanted to see one but never thought she would meet one in the wild on the Eyre Peninsula.

She said she came across it on the beach and instantly knew it was a leopard seal.

"It was just chilling out in the sun, relaxing and was really placid and really content," she said.

"I went down and thought 'I'll just go and observe it, sit for a while with him or her."

Ms Parkyn, who operates an animal whisperer business, said she got the feeling the young seal just "needed to be recharged".

The encounter follows a similar sighting of a leopard seal at Fowlers Bay on the Far West Coast in July.

South Australian Museum honorary research associate Dr Peter Shaughnessy has been involved in the study of fur seals and sea lions in South Australia and said there had been a couple of sightings in Coffin Bay in the last two decades but most had been on the seaward side of the Coorong.

He said leopard seals usually lived on pack ice in the winter and fed on krill below the ice and in the summer fed on penguins or crabeater seal pups when they weaned in November.

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