Last updated 19:38 20/02/2014
Wildlife officers have been stunned to see video of a man slapping the rear of a 2000kg southern elephant seal that came ashore at Sorrento Beach in Perth, Australia.
The man's behaviour has prompted a warning for the public to stay away from the animal.
The sub-adult male drew big crowds to the beach, after coming ashore on Wednesday.
Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife officer Matt Swan said the seal had most likely spent a long period hunting in the water and was using a "haul-out period" to rest on the beach.
He said the mammals hunted far off the coast in deep waters which made them tired.
Swan urged curious beachgoers to keep a safe distance of at least 30 metres and warned people not to get in between the seal and the water.
Seals can inflict a bite similar to that of a large dog and can move faster than humans.
"We are asking beachgoers not to approach the seal and to keep their dogs on leads as seals' behaviour can be very unpredictable," Swan said.
"If it is harassed by people trying to get too close, it may feel threatened and react aggressively."
The department stated seals were generally found in waters around sub-Antarctic islands.
While it was unusual for one to haul out this far north, there had been previous occurrences, the department said.
A large male that hauled out in the Exmouth area of Western Australia remained there for five years.
- WA Today
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