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PWS - Fires update and impacts

20/02/2019

Background: A number of fires were ignited by dry lightning that crossed the state in late December 2018 and mid-January 2019. The storms of 15 January 2019 resulted in approximately 2,400 lightning strikes and caused over 60 new ignitions.More

PWS Fire Update - Friday 15 February 2019

15/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened today (Friday 15 February).More

PWS Fire Update - Thursday 14 February 2019

14/02/2019

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (PWS) can advise the following locations, reserves and tracks have been re-opened.More

Southern Elephant Seal, Mirounga leonina

Southern elephant seals are the largest of all seals with males reaching 4 - 5 m in length and 2 200 kg in weight. Females are much smaller at 2 - 3 m in length and only 500 kg in weight. Southern elephant seals are coloured rusty grey-brown and are covered with thick blubber. Mature males have a large 'trunk', or proboscis which is used to amplify their vocalisations and, together with their bulk, gives rise to their name 'elephant' seal. They often appear cumbersome and indifferent to humans yet, despite their awkwardness, the speed with which they can move their bulk makes them potentially dangerous if harassed.

Southern elephant seals once bred in Tasmania on King Island but were wiped out by the sealing industry. There have been several births of Elephant seals recorded in Tasmania. On Maatsuyker Island there have been two recordings of Elephant seals giving birth with a pup born in 1977 and one in 1998. Around the coast of mainland Tasmania, there have been two records of females with pups including one at Strahan on the West coast in 1958 when a cow gave birth in the main street, and one near St Helens on the East coast in 1977.

Their diet consists mainly of squid.

Each year in Tasmania an average of three elephant seals are reported. The age of the animals visiting our shores varies from 'underyearling' and yearling animals (less than a year old and one year old respectively), to animals of 16 or more years of age.

Often people mistake the elephant seal for a sick or shot fur seal. The genital area is unfortunately mistaken by many people for a gun shot wound. Elephant seals have bloody-looking mouths, which is perfectly normal for this species but often alarms people who have not seen the species before.

The closest breeding area of elephant seals is Macquarie Island. Here, there is an estimated population of 86 000 animals; however, the population is declining at a rate of 2.5% per annum.