Reg the Australian Fur Seal
It’s not every day you see a Fur Seal sunbaking on the beaches of the Sydney shorelines, but in Dee Why for a period it was a common occurrence.
Reg, the Australian Fur Seal, made the Northern Beaches his home during COVID. Swimmers, surfboarders and beach walkers regularly caught a glimpse of him as he lied completely oblivious to his notoriety.
Where did Reg come from? Well, no one is quite sure, but it is possible that he could have come from the Great Australian Bight or Macquarie Island, he may even have come from as far as a colony in Tasmania. And whilst it’s not unusual for seals to be in this area, they don’t normally come this far North, never lone haul out on the beach and sunbake amongst the human folk.
In fact, it’s more common for surfers and boaters to see the odd seal out in the water. Leopard seals are the most frequently spotted, but generally only 3 to 4 a year.
Needless to say, Reg is clearly an individual and his favourite touts included Manly, Dee Why, Bondi, Long Reef, Curl Curl, along with a brief appearance at the Central Coast.
Because Reg is still a wild animal, the authourities have had to remind locals to keep their distance (legally 40 metres) after a few tried to get a little friendly.
While Reg was not too fussed by the paparazzi there were a couple of close calls involving a group of intoxicated men and a man with his dogs, who needless to say were lucky not to have been bitten. As a result, Reg ended up with his own security entourage, including the ORRCA volunteers, NPWS rangers, the council, surf life savers and even the police.
Reg’s true age is not known, but by the appearance of his worn teeth it’s thought he is an older seal. He appears in good health and this could be due to an abundant supply of food in the area. His diet would consist of fish, squid, octopus and also little penguins.
Sexual maturity in male seals is estimated to be from 5 to 9yrs of age, so it's unlikely he’s sexually active which is why it’s likely he has stayed around this area, where he has a good supply of food and a nice place to take it easy.
So, what’s in store for this leisurely gentleman who enjoys the surf and sea of the Northern beaches?
Well, no one knows for sure and the last time he was seen was in September 2020 at Fisherman’s Beach where he was thought to have left and headed south at the end of January 2021.
If you see an Australian Fur Seal on your beach and want to know if it's Reg he can be identified by a notch on his left front flipper, although do not be tempted to get close as while appearing leisurely, have no fear his weight and teeth can make him a fearsome predator if antagonised.
Normally seals will move off quite quickly when you spot them. If you do happen to see one hauled up on the beach be sure to report it as soon as possible as they are dangerous and the 2nd top predator to the Orca.
We would like to thank Jools Farrell, the Vice President of ORRCA Inc, a non-profit organisation whose focus is the rescue, preservation, conservation and welfare of Whales, Dolphins, Seals and Dugongs in Australian waters, who kindly shared this information with us about Reg.
24 Hour ORRCA Rescue Hotline: 02 9415 3333