A leopard seal called Hatea has made himself at home in the upper Whangarei Harbour.
Initially he had a wound under his chin which Tutukaka-based whale and marine life expert Dr Ingrid Visser said could be from a shark bite.
Leopard seals were typically found in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic Islands but were regularly seen in New Zealand too.
Hatea was estimated to be between 3 and 5 years old, and weigh 80kg to 100kg.
At that size, and with the speed seals were capable of, dock users and the public were warned not to get too close.
The Department of Conservation (DoC) put up signs warning people of the seal and letting them know what to do if he was spotted.
People were asked not to go near seals when they came ashore.
As well as being treated by the public like a visiting film star or an unpredictable wild animal, the seal attracted scientific interest.
Research assistant Giverny Forbes was able to collect some of Hatea’s droppings to find what his diet was and some other health information.
Feathers in the “scat” indicated the seal had been feeding on birdlife around the harbour, backing up local reports he was occasionally seen eating ducks.