- Neil the Seal is a juvenile southern elephant seal who has come ashore in a few neighborhoods in Tasmania, Australia.
- People love Neil the Seal, who now has his own Instagram account.
- Officials believe Neil the Seal was born in the area and has hauled out for molting season.
For residents in the southeastern port cities of Tasmania, Australia, it’s not uncommon to be late for work because a giant seal is lying in the middle of the road, blocking traffic. And one seal in particular is going viral for these high jinks.
Affectionately named “Neil the Seal” by the locals, Neil is adorably causing havoc in this area of Australia. His antics have made him a star on social media, and he even has his own Instagram page with over 59,000 followers — and counting — as of this writing. Here’s all you need to know about Neil the Seal.
Where is Neil the Seal?
In December 2023, Neil the Seal reportedly visited Tasmanian coastal neighborhoods near Hobart and Dunalley, which are in the southeastern part of Tasmania, which is an island state. Scientists believe Neil has come ashore, or “hauled out,” for the annual molting season, The New York Times reported.
Earlier in the year, Neil was removed from nearby Kingston Beach and moved to a “more secluded location,” according to an April 2023 press release from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania. Wherever they relocated him to, he obviously found his way back.
Neil was probably born in the area, which is why he keeps returning there, ecologist Clive McMahon of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science told The New York Times.
What kind of seal is Neil the Seal?
Neil is a southern elephant seal who is estimated to be about 3 years old and weigh 1,300 pounds. According to National Geographic, southern elephant seals are the largest seals in the world. They can grow up to 20 feet in length and weigh up to 9,000 pounds (4.5 tons).
Neil the Seal is capturing the hearts of people around the world.
Neil the Seal has grown in the years since he first started visiting the Tasmanian neighborhoods, but he is still small enough to be cute. And his antics are capturing the hearts of people people throughout Tasmania — and the world.
TikTok is full of videos of Neil, and his popularity has even prompted the creation of the hashtag #NeiltheSeal. In many videos, he’s seen playing with his favorite toys: orange traffic cones. In others, he’s antagonizing local police, or just taking a nap in the middle of the road or on someone’s front porch.
“I thought he was dead to be quite honest at first, because he was just laying there. But then he started moving around,” resident Stephen Godfrey told The New York Times. “He’s sort of part of the community now.”
One woman literally had to call her work and tell them she couldn’t come in because Neil was blocking her car, the Australian Broadcast Company (ABC) reported. "There's not a lot you can do with a 600-kilogram seal at your car," she told ABC Radio Hobart. "I have no idea why he's chosen my front yard but he's welcome to stay as long as he wants."
It’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of Neil the Seal videos. I mean, come on, he’s just so cute. One of my personal favorites is the above TikTok video, posted by @news.com.au, of Neil “doing the worm” to the tune “Funkytown.”