Watch as a curious fur seal gets up close to a Boat Harbour free diver

Jack McKinnon was treated to quite the encounter on his free dive off Boat Harbour earlier this month.

The Port resident took his new GoPro out for its first test drive on the first day of spring, September 1, and captured an up close encounter with a curious fur seal.

"I was returning from a free diving expedition when we saw the curious seal playing around on the surface of the water at the mouth of Boat Harbour," Mr McKinnon said.

"I jumped into the water after anchoring about 50m away, and pottered over towards it to try and get some footage.

"The seal was playing in the shallow water, alone, and seemed curious to see me looking straight back at it.

"I have scuba dived with many seals before at Cabbage Tree Island but it was pretty special to see this little fella closer to home. They seem like very friendly creatures, with a lot of character."

A still image from Jack McKinnon's GoPro video of a fur seal he encountered off Boat Harbour on Wednesday, September 1.

A still image from Jack McKinnon's GoPro video of a fur seal he encountered off Boat Harbour on Wednesday, September 1.

Australian fur seals are regulars in Port Stephens, often seen on and around Cabbage Tree Island, located about 1.4 kilometres out of the heads.

The largest of all the fur seals, the Australian fur seal has large eyes, a pointed face with whiskers and sharp teeth.

Australian fur seals are a threatened species.

The NSW Government's declared approach distance for an adult seal in the water is 10m.

On occasion, leopard seals, an apex predator native to Antarctica, are spotted in the Port, often resting or sunning themselves on a beach.

On the day he swam with the fur seal, Mr McKinnon had been free diving the reef about 2km offshore of Boat Harbour.

"It was perfect weather to be out on the water," he said. "The dive was fun but the water was murky from the recent storms, so I drove back to Boaty. We regularly encounter bull sharks, so I bring a spear gun for protection, and the occasional catch."

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