Concerns raised about Owha the leopard seal

6:39 am on 20 September 2019

A group working to protect leopard seals say they are extremely concerned for a resident Auckland seal who has been seen foaming with plastic in her mouth.

Owha the leopard seal at Westhaven Marina

Owha the leopard seal at Westhaven Marina earlier this year. Photo: Supplied / Giverny Forbes,

Owha the leopard seal is frequently seen in the Waitematā Harbour and has made the waters around Auckland and Northland her home since 2015.

But Brittany Mathias from Leopard said yesterday they received a call from the member of the public saying they noticed something wrong with Owha.

"[She said] Owha was foaming around her mouth and she believed there was a bit of plastic embedded in her mouth," she said.

Ms Mathias said it was very worrying news.

"It has the potential to stop her feeding or get into her airways and stop her breathing so it's really detrimental to her health," she said.

There were sightings of Owha at Kauri Point yesterday morning and at Westhaven yesterday evening, but Ms Mathias said she had not come out onto a pontoon.

She is urging anyone who spots Owha, who has a distinctive V shaped scar on her left cheek, to get in touch on 0800 5367273.

"That way we can get one of our teams to assess her," she said.

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