First elephant seal pup born on King Island in 200 years

An elephant seal has been born on King Island for the first time in 200 years. 
Picture: Larraine Nievaart.

An elephant seal has been born on King Island for the first time in 200 years. Picture: Larraine Nievaart.

FOR the first time in about 200 years, an elephant seal has been born on King Island.

The two-month-old female seal was first spotted on Friday, lazing about in the sun at Naracoopa.

The elephant seal population was wiped out on King Island in the early 1800s when they were hunted for their oil.

Marine Conservation Program wildlife biologist Sam Thalmann said that it was likely the pup’s mother had travelled from Macquarie Island, the nearest breeding population.

‘‘Every now and then we do get a female that is in the Tasmanian area and they have to give birth around September because they’ve mated the year before,’’ Mr Thalmann said.

‘‘Elephant seals return to the area where they were born, it will take many, many years for a population to build up but we certainly think this is an encouraging sign.’’

King Island Nature Reserve co-owner and Naracoopa resident Pam Rolley said it was extremely exciting to find a pup in the area after so many decades.

‘‘Why it was so amazing was because it was back at Naracoopa and it was actually at Sea Elephant Bay,’’ Mrs Rolley said.

‘‘It’s a very wide, long expansive beach, it’s protected and why we get so many animals at the end of the jetty.’’

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