COLOMBO, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) — A southern elephant seal was spotted for the first time in Sri Lankan waters and has attracted many locals as it swam off the coast of capital Colombo searching for a place to haul, local media reports said.
Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) live in sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters that feature brutally cold conditions but are rich in the fish, squid, and other marine foods these seals enjoy. Southern elephant seals breed on land but spend their winters in the frigid Antarctic waters near the Antarctic pack ice.
The seal was first spotted in the southern waters of Sri Lanka, off the tourist town of Unawatuna, located about 144 km from capital Colombo in mid-November. Since then, it has made it’s way up to the western coast of Sri Lanka, searching for a place to molt, a seasonal process of shedding fur.
Experts including marine biologist Asha de Vos have advised the public to refrain from approaching the seal and give it enough space to complete it’s natural molting process. The Sri Lankan Navy and Department of Wildlife have taken steps to ensure the seal’s safety.
(The pictures are by Gayan Sameer/Xinhua)