A group of swimmers got more than they bargained for after a playful seal joined in on their morning swim.
The curious seal, named Alex, was captured enjoying the crystal clear waters of Sydney’s popular Bondi Beach on Monday morning.
Drone footage shows the seal swimming just metres away from the lucky beach-goers, as he chases a shoal of fish in the shallows.
Breathtaking aerial footage shows Alex the seal hunting just metres away from swimmers at Bondi Beach
While the swimmers seem unsure of the lively seal at first – one woman can be seen racing out of the water – many stay to watch the animal play.
Photographer Nick Holton, who filmed the video, said the Australian fur seal has a reputation in Bondi as a local legend.
The giant mammal is a return visitor to Sydney beaches, with many Bondi locals stopping to watch the seal from the shore or their surfboards.
Mr Holton told Daily Mail Australia in the two years he’s photographed Alex, the seal has become a ‘hunting expert’.
Alex the seal has earned a reputation as a local legend, returning to Sydney beaches to hunt large shoals of salmon
‘When there’s big bait balls of salmon in the bay you’ll see Alex cruising in and out, sometimes he’s got family with him but usually he’s alone.
‘He sometimes waits off shore and rides the waves in to attack the salmon, charging in and out of the bay.’
Mr Holton said he could recognise Alex by the distinctive pattern on the seals neck, as well as his carefully executed hunting style.
Seals are no stranger to beaches across Sydney, with an increasing number of the animals making themselves at home during the warmer months.
Beach-goers got up close and personal with the seal who was hunting in the shallow waters
A visiting seal wowed onlookers after it arrived at Dee Why Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches last December.
The exhausted seal hauled itself up three flights of stairs to take a rest on the grass, attracting attention from hoards of curious spectators.
Police and animal authorities cordoned off the area surrounding the seal to the public to allow the animal to rest undisturbed.
While seals prefer to swim in cold waters, wild seals will occasionally stray as far north as Sydney and the Coral Coast in Western Australia.
In December a visiting seal attracted a crowd of curious onlookers at Dee Why beach, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches
Rangers from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service have noticed an increase in visiting seals along the north coast.
Many people who spot the seals, wrongly assume they are in distress, ranger Andrew Marshall told the New South Wales Department of Environment.
He said the reality was majority of the beached seals were just resting, and encouraged curious spectators to keep a 40 metres away from the animals.
‘They might look fairly docile lying on a beach but they can move faster than you can when roused and they have a good set of sharp teeth.
‘They are wild animals and so they can be dangerous if you get too close.
‘Mostly they just want to rest at a location for a few days and they need this so please leave them alone.’
HOW TO STAY SEAL SAFE
Always stay 40 metres away from a resting seal and 80 metres from a pup
Never walk between a seal and the water as seals can move quickly on land
Always supervise children and restrain pets to reduce risk of attack
It is illegal to touch or feed a seal as they can become dependent on humans
On piers, jetties or boat ramps stay at least 5 metres away from the seal
Source: NSW Department of Environment