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Seal pup found hundreds of kilometers from ho -

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ELEANOR HALL: Now to the story of an Antarctic fur seal that was found hundreds of kilometres from
home.

A truck driver found the fur seal pup trying to cross a busy national highway about 250 kilometres
north of Adelaide.

The driver brought the six-month old seal pup back to the coast but no-one has yet unravelled the
mystery of how the pup ended up so far from home.

Nance Haxton spoke about the seal pup to animal welfare officer Aaron Machado.

AARON MACHADO: Good question. We have no idea at this point in time. And it's absolutely bewildered
all of us here at Project Dolphin as to how the animal got to the highway.

NANCE HAXTON: So it was found by a truckie passing by?

AARON MACHADO: So I believe it was found by a truck driver. He happened to see the animal trying to
cross the highway and stopped to one, see if his eyes were playing tricks on him and to see if it
was actually a seal pup that needed assistance. And obviously it did.

NANCE HAXTON: So lucky that he stopped. Can you give us some perspective really on how far away
this seal pup was from where it should be?

AARON MACHADO: It's pretty well three-quarters of the way up Spencer Gulf which is, that's a good
couple of hundred kilometres from Port Lincoln before the animal could then head west to the only
known seal colony we have of sub-Antarctic fur seals. And that's at this point in time what we
believe it to be but we have to await DNA confirmation on that.

NANCE HAXTON: When you got there to find the seal what sort of condition was she in?

AARON MACHADO: We picked the animal up that afternoon from the National Parks office and the animal
was extremely emaciated, unbelievably dehydrated and quite distressed. The stress levels were just,
you can't comprehend what was going through the animal's mind. It would be equivalent to us not
drinking for four or five days.

NANCE HAXTON: Which I suppose is not surprising that it was in that state given how far away it was
from where he should be?

AARON MACHADO: Exactly, exactly. And other questions now arise as to where mother is. Is mother
okay? Is mother now searching the beach for a seal pup? Because a lot of times these animals will
be put on the beach by mother. Mother will then go to sea and feed for several days before coming
back to collect it.

So if that was the case that somebody's actually moved the animal from the beach is one thing,
versus that of mum going to sea, feeding, having something happen to her like a shark attack or
being taken or something else that we don't know.

And then pup trying to find its way back to where mother is and not knowing what direction to
travel in. Just started to travel in the direction it was pointing and hence it found its way to
the highway.

NANCE HAXTON: So it's possible that there's a lost seal mother out there as well?

AARON MACHADO: Oh yes, yeah. I mean mum probably wouldn't be lost more so. Probably be looking for
pup. You know these animals will put their pups at one particular spot on a particular beach. And
they'll know exactly where that is and they will return to the exact spot or very close to it to
look for the pup several days later.

Now she could be doing that as we speak. We don't know.

NANCE HAXTON: So perhaps it's a lesson to all of us as well that if we do find a seal pup on the
beach like that that really they're best to be left alone or what's the advice there?

AARON MACHADO: Exactly right. Look, love it from a distance and care for it from a distance. Make a
phone call before you intervene.

ELEANOR HALL: That's animal welfare officer Aaron Machado speaking to Nance Haxton in Adelaide.