A seal has entertained a couple on Lake Macquarie, turning on a majestic 10-minute display of fishing and showing little concern for their boat.
Kevin McCarthy and his wife Wendy, of Dora Creek, spotted the seal on a recent picture-perfect winter’s morning on the lake.
“We were going for a leisurely cruise on the beautiful calm water when my wife spotted the seal out of the corner of her eye as it came to the surface with a decent size fish in its mouth,” Mr McCarthy said.
“Had it not been so calm on that day we would have missed it altogether.”
Mr McCarthy stopped the boat and the couple watched as the seal dived again, surfacing about 40 metres away with another fish in its mouth.
“Over a period of maybe 8 to10 minutes it stayed at the same spot while seeming to play with the fish. It was gently rolling and moving very slowly along the surface,” he said.
“The seal was not in a hurry, and neither were we.”
Mr McCarthy said it was a pleasure to witness the display.
“We felt very blessed to see such a beautiful species playing and so relaxed and obviously not afraid but also still aware of our presence,” he said.
“We were very surprised to see it on Lake Macquarie as our direct family live on the lake at Dora Creek and have done so for 50 years.”
He said the couple’s extended families come from professional lake fishermen who previously trawled the waters every season for about 50 years.
“And in all that history we had not heard of a seal in the lake,” he said.
The seal’s presence was presumably another sign of the estuary’s health, he said.
Mr McCarthy said he had witnessed a change in the lake ecosystem over decades.
“The lake health west and south of Pulbah Island has definitely changed over my life,” he said.
“As a boy I remember catching abundant quantities of medium size fish at every outing.”
The banning of commercial fishing in Lake Macquarie had been a significant game changer, he said.
“Larger predators such as the hammerhead and other sharks have flourished and can now often be seen in the water. And now even a seal has been sighted!”
Mr McCarthy said the findings of razor fish, of various new weeds, and a dangerous jelly fish were also evidence of a lake system in change.
“But Lake Macquarie is still one of the best spots in NSW,” he said.