Public helps with dead seal retrieval

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Invercargill siblings (from left) Caydence Kennerley (9), Ilish Moynihan (7) and Daniel Kennerley (10) stand by a dead leopard seal at Oreti Beach last week.

IT was a race against time to retrieve a dead leopard seal from an Invercargill beach last week, so the body could be sent to a chiller for scientific research.

LeopardSeals.org co-founder Dr Krista van der Linde was excited to learn how large the taonga (treasured) animal was.

While the cause of death of the almost 3m-long mammal was unknown, Dr van der Linde would soon conduct a necropsy (examine a body after death) to help further the limited knowledge about the species in New Zealand.

Dr van der Linde was notified of the dead leopard seal on Oreti Beach early last week, and received approval from local iwi and the Department of Conservation to remove it last Wednesday.

It had only been in the past decade that more was being discovered about the visitor to Aotearoa/New Zealand, but she said the not-for-profit organisation was building on its research.

The animal found near Invercargill would help bolster that.

“Eventually, when we have enough of them, we can do a whole study.”

She said there were about 10 animals already in its database.

With no idea as to how long the animal had been on the beach, it was needed to be transported to a freezer for safe-keeping.

A group of about 15 headed to the beach to lift the heavy body, following a karakia, last week.

“Fortunately for me, there are bloody awesome people in the community who are willing to do crazy stuff to help,” Dr van der Linde said.

“It blows my mind.”

Dr van der Linde said she was a big fan of citizen science, and this was a great example of that happening.

She thanked those people who had helped.

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