There are plenty of people out there who enjoy a weekend trip to the beach, but it was a seal who decided to find out what all the fuss was about at Blacksmiths on Sunday.
Blacksmiths local Alicia Nash stumbled upon the marine mammal while out on her daily beach walk - the first time she had seen such a sight in more than a decade of living in the area.
"It was a nice surprise," she said. "It was just cleaning itself and looking at the people."
National Parks and Wildlife said the mature New Zealand Fur-seal had "hauled out" - which means leaving the water to rest, or on some occasions even mate, give birth or rear young.
"It is common to see seals hauled out at this time of year in the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie areas and along the NSW coastline," the service said.
"The vast majority of seals lying on rock shelves or beaches are just resting or digesting a belly full of fish."
The seal attracted a few onlookers, but Alicia said it was gone again by the time she walked past on Monday morning.
Alicia also captured photos of a seal that was found sunbathing on the Blacksmiths breakwall in July 2019, but she said this one was a different animal.
"That one looked really sick and has passed away, but this one looked really healthy," she said.
National Parks also confirmed the seal was in good health, with no obvious signs of injury or illness.
Alicia said she heard from a few surfers that they'd spotted this seal before around Moon Island and Caves Beach.
She managed to capture a shot of the creature under a rainbow with a lone surfer heading out in the background.
"It was just magic," she said.
Both National Parks and ORRCA attended the beach on Sunday to install signage, monitor the seal and provide advice to on-lookers about approach distances.
"People are reminded to give seals plenty of space," National Parks said.
"They may look fairly docile but seals can move very quickly on land, have sharp teeth and may bite if frightened or provoked.
"Please don't approach the seal for any reason. For your own safety and the animal's welfare, you must stay at least 40 metres away from adults and 80 metres if there is a pup present."
If you see a seal in distress or injured you can report them to the NPWS on 13000 PARKS or ORRCA on 9415 3333.
LIZARD NEEDS A NAME
There's a new species of lizard at Hunter Wetlands Centre. It has four legs, is 5.5 metres long from head to tail and has a permanent smile on its face.
It would sound terrifying if the gigantic animal were real, but thankfully the creature is just one of three new play installations in the grounds of the centre.
The wetlands centre is running a competition on its Facebook page to give the lizard a name, with six suggestions to be chosen for people to vote for from Wednesday.
"We wanted to add some fun and adventure for kids exploring the wetlands," said wetlands centre CEO Ken Bayliss. "We also wanted structures that would sit well in our natural environment and have appeal for visitors of all ages."
The lizard joins a winged creature inspired by magpie geese and a nature play area with a tepee shelter, activity table and ropes. All three are around Brambles Pond and are an easy walk from the visitor centre.
"The installations constructed by Timber Creations Nature Play from reclaimed native timbers fitted our requirements perfectly," Ken said.
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