In the rural town of Dunalley, Tasmania, with only a population of 304, lies an unexpected local legend. From blocking cars, to hitting parking poles, flipping over traffic cones, and napping in people’s lawns, it is hard to turn your attention away from the mischievous mammal known as Neil the Seal.
At 1,300 pounds (600 kg) the online attraction has taken up residence within the small community causing minor inconveniences for those who cross his path.
Since his birth in 2020, in Salem Bay, Neil has been tagged and studied by the Marine Conservation Program. This is due to the Australian Government deeming Elephant Seals as a vulnerable species since April 4th, 2001.
This monitoring has allowed scientists to know that the seals are, as stated by the government, “… onshore for about four weeks before returning to sea (Slip et al. 1994a).” It is during this 4 week period when Neil makes his splashing entrance to antagonize the people in his favorite town.
After the breeding season, adult females are at sea for about 10 weeks before the moult in January-February, and adult males are at sea for about 14 weeks before their molt in March.
In April of 2023, The Marine Conservation Program stated “Seals are large wild animals and for the safety of the seal and the public should not be disturbed”