Marine specialists are worried about Tasmania’s Neil the Seal renowned southern elephant seal, as a result of his viral antics, which have drawn attention from the public. After being officially identified during a “haul out” in July 2022, Neil, a 600 kilogram seal, has left the coast and explored the streets of Tasmania’s southern beach districts. He has amassed over 45,000 followers on his Instagram account, which chronicles his existence.
Neil’s sudden rise to fame made headlines both domestically and abroad when he blocked a Tasmanian woman’s car so she couldn’t get to work. The New York Times was even interested in his antics, which included lying in front of a nearby real estate agency and making a scene outside a Dunalley fish and chip store.
my only wish for 2024 is to find something to love even 25% as much as neil the seal loves traffic cones pic.twitter.com/9CN9hu4fSd— punky boobster 🌵🌄 (@bustybruiser) December 18, 2023
The owner of Neil’s Instagram account and marine specialists are becoming increasingly concerned about the seal’s welfare despite Neil’s widespread popularity. Neil needs to be treated like a wild animal, according to Mary-Anne Lea, a lecturer at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. She issued a warning, saying that as these animals mature, interactions arising from their normal habits and hormonal changes may become dangerous, particularly if they are mistreated.
Because southern elephant seals can move quickly and potentially dangerous to people, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania brought attention to the possible risk of pestering these seals. Neil recently declared that he will no longer be revealing his real-time location on Instagram, which was originally set up to inform communities and kids about his behavior.
The account holder expressed concern about the growing number of TikTokers showing interest in Neil and asked them to treat him like a wild animal, stressing that he is not there for money. Lea emphasized the need of raising public awareness, noting that many people are ignorant of the fact that elephant seals, like Neil, haul out for rest periods following protracted periods of time at sea.
Lea brought up the tragic story of Freya the walrus in Norway, who was put to death after entertaining large audiences and posing a continual risk to human safety. Lea reminded everyone to keep a respectful distance from Neil and to think about the effects of frequent contact between humans and giant beasts.
Lea asked people to put the welfare of this rare southern Neil the Seal, which is making a comeback in Tasmanian waters, above anything else. She suggested that people give Neil the room he requires and follow the advise of the local authorities, even though his humorous actions may amuse observers.