KILLARNEY'S latest tourist attraction has certainly set tongues wagging - indeed it has even has drawn comparisons with Fungie The Dolphin.
More suited to salt water, a Harbour Seal has spent the last week on Killarney's Lower Lake after making the trip upstream from Castlemaine Harbour via the River Laune.
The curious seal was spotted last Wednesday morning close to the Muckross shore of the lake and it seems it certainly wasn't camera shy, as local angler Mike 'Kenmare' O'Sullivan reveals.
"I was going for walk with my wife when a chap carrying out a wildlife survey said there was a seal on a nearby rock," the St Anne's Road resident states.
"Of course I was very surprised and didn't believe him at first - I thought he must have seen the head of an otter or an outline of rock. But when I looked through binoculars there was my boyo, lying out on the rock. He was huge," he adds.
Mike, a former shoemaker, didn't have a camera with him so he left the scene and called on his good friend John Leane to get the all-important photo.
"John is a very good photographer so I thought he'd be perfect for the job but when we got back about 15 minutes later the seal was gone," Mike continues.
"After searching we found it circling the waters nearby and it got closer and closer and eventually settled back on the rock again. We were under cover at first but when we came out in the open, sure didn't he get as inquisitive as we did," he adds.
It's not first seal to have made its way into the fresh water Killarney lakes - four years ago one was found dead in the Fossa area. Yet it's a full 30 years since a live one was spotted and even then questions were raised.
"The guys who spoke of the seal back then were ridiculed and blackguarded but we've finally vindicated them after all this time," Mike said with a smile.
Meanwhile, there have been concerns that the Harbour Seal, a voracious fish eater, could be a threat to local stocks. Mike Doody of Killarney Salmon and Trout Angling Club, though, said the jury was still out on this claim.
"It's just arose over the last few days so it's still a novelty," he stated.
"It may have followed the Spring Run up the River Laune but the stock is very low at the moment so it is a surprise to see it here. We're just biding our time to see if it goes down naturally. Hopefully it will because if it stays too long in fresh water its eyesight will be the first thing to go."