Australia

Fur seal becomes stranded in Australian paddock

A New Zealand fur seal found in an cow paddock in rural New South Wales Image copyright National Parks and Wildlife Service
Image caption The seal appeared tired but calm after being rescued

A seal has been returned to the ocean after being found in a cow paddock in rural Australia.

The animal was spotted emerging from a creek near the coastal town of Bega, 420km (260 miles) south of Sydney, on Tuesday.

Wildlife and council officers captured the "tired" marine mammal before releasing it in a nearby river mouth.

After being hunted nearly to extinction in the 19th Century, the species is now thriving in protected breeding grounds.

Image copyright National Parks and Wildlife Service
Image caption The animal was caught using a special net designed especially for seals.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service said the animal - a New Zealand fur seal - appeared calm as it swam back into the sea.

Seals can sometimes get disoriented and swim a long way up creeks, according to Andrew Irvine, unit supervisor of marine mammals at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

"It's always an unusual event but given that the population is quite good and stable at the moment... It's not unheard of," he told the BBC.

"We've been fortunate to see good increases in New Zealand fur seal populations throughout Australia."

Image copyright National Parks and Wildlife Service
Image caption Wildlife officers and council rangers returned the seal to the ocean

Mr Irvine said seals are comfortable being on land for more than a month, but are prone to getting hot and tired.

"They can be out of the water for a long period of time," he said.

Earlier this year, another fur seal was relocated after being found asleep in a public toilet block in Tasmania.

Fur seal species are protected by legislation in Australia and New Zealand.

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