FAR FROM HOME: A young leopard seal, whose home is normally in the Antarctic, was spotted on the beach at Misty Cliffs. Photo: Luke Kruyt

Cape Town - A young leopard seal came ashore at Misty Cliffs beach near Scarborough, Cape Town, on Friday, many thousands of kilometres from its home in the Antarctic.

Luke Kruyt from TEARS Animal Rescue, who was alerted to the seal’s arrival, said yesterday it appeared to be in good health.

Pat Dickens from the The Seals Of Nam organisation, said on Sunday that although sightings of these animals were extremely rare, leopard seals did come ashore to rest or moult.

“This one may hang around for a few days before journeying on once more.”

He appealed to the public to keep dogs away and to remain at least 20m from the seal as leopard seals were known to be extremely aggressive.

“They can move surprisingly fast and can hit speeds of up to 40km/h. These seals are equipped with large teeth and can deliver a nasty bite.”

Leopard seals live in cold waters surrounding Antarctica. They are predators, feeding mainly on other seals, penguins, fish, and krill. Killer whales are their only known predators.

In summer they hunt in the pack ice, which they “patrol” almost completely submerged, waiting for prey.

They are known to be bold, curious and are exremely powerful.

In winter they move north to the sub-Antarctic islands.

Last month, when a sub-Antarctic fur seal from Marion Island came ashore in Cape Town, Mike Meyer of Environment Affairs’ Oceans and Coast branch said these “vagrants” arrived on the South African coastline from time to time.

He said it was usually the young animals that tended to wander away from their normal territories.

The seal was last seen on Saturday morning.

Cape Times