A seal rarely seen on Australian shores is taking a breather in Port Fairy where wildlife authorities say it appears to be in good health.
Community members reported the subantarctic fur seal to Zoos Victoria in the past week and the Moyne Shire Council is warning people to keep their distance.
The young seal, a chocolate brown colour, has been resting on rocks near the Port Fairy Surf Lifesaving Club although nearby residents said it had disappeared on Monday.
The seal had no obvious physical injuries, according to Melbourne Zoo marine response unit co-ordinator Mark Keenan.
"But the MRU continues to work with local authorities to monitor its health and welfare," Mr Keenan said.
The seal usually resides on islands near Antarctica such as Macquarie Island, which is about 2000 kilometres from the Port Fairy coast.
A crabeater seal arrived on the south-west Victorian coast in 2016 and a number of animals that usually reside in far-flung habitats visit the region every few years.
Mosswood Wildlife Shelter owner Tracey Wilson said she was currently caring for a rockhopper penguin that would usually be in remote habitats such as Nightingale and Amsterdam islands.
She cared for a similar penguin about a decade ago and believed it was a northern rockhopper penguin based on a pattern beneath its flipper.
"They have the best navigation system on board. You can't box him up and get him back to where he came from," Ms Wilson said.
"They are not frequent visitors but we get them in Warrnambool."
Port Fairy beachcomber John Miller found a blanket octopus washed up on East Beach in 2019 and said the seal sighting was among a history of unusual encounters on the beach.
"It's pretty strange, but that's the ocean for you," Mr Miller said.
The council's environment director Trev Greenberger asked people to ensure dogs were kept secure in the area.
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