This fur seal appears to have escaped a brush with a shark, nursing a large bite mark as it recovers in the Bellinger River.
This fur seal appears to have escaped a brush with a shark, nursing a large bite mark as it recovers in the Bellinger River. NPWS

Hurt seal pup recovering in river

AN injured seal pup is being monitored on the Coffs Coast as it attempts to recover from what appears to be a shark bite.

The fur seal was seen floating on its side in the Bellinger River at Urunga and Repton, prompting fears for its safety.

Veterinarians and rangers with the NPWS have assessed the animal and believe it is performing a process known as ‘jugging', which lowers its core body temperature as part of the healing process.

A NPWS spokesman said the animal had a large wound that showed signs of healing, so it was decided not to remove the animal from the water, as it may come onshore to recuperate.

“What is very surprising about seals is that they can appear to have serious open wounds and injuries, but can heal from them once they come onshore and rest and recover,” the spokesman said.

“They are tough little guys and while it looks like this seal is having trouble swimming, it is actually performing that process known as jugging – not exerting too much energy.”

Duan March, a veterinarian at Coffs Harbour's Pet Porpoise Pool, said he had been liaising with rangers over the wellbeing of the seal.

Mylestom general store owner Chris Garrett helped raise the alarm after he spotted the animal near the Mylestom River Pool on Thursday.

“You could see the bite mark, a big chunk out of its side. It was flopping around and looked like it was having some trouble swimming,” Mr Garrett said.

“It must have come up the river with the tide. We last saw it floating past Tucker's Island.”

NPWS Coffs Coast area manager Glenn Storrie said seals visited the Mid North Coast in winter.

“Seals ‘haul out' on our beaches and rock platforms, particularly this time of year,” Mr Storrie said.

“While seals are quite beautiful creatures, they can be quite aggressive if they feel threatened.

“Seals are extremely agile on land and can move quickly. They also possess extremely large and sharp teeth that can inflict serious injury.

“While it may be tempting to approach them or try and help, it is important to remember that in most cases the animals are not in trouble but are merely resting, and that they will depart within a day or two.”

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