Neil the seal becomes viral sensation leaving marine experts concerned for his welfare

Marine experts want to make a deal with fans of Neil the seal in Tasmania, ITV News reporter Sejal Karia reports.

A seal called Neil has made quite the splash on the Australian island of Tasmania, where he has garnered quite the fan base on land and online.

The southern elephant seal has become a social media star for his antics as he seems to prefer life on the streets to his natural home, but that has prompted marine experts to be concerned about his welfare.

Neil has become a familiar sight for islanders, and he is often spotted lounging around town.

He has also had the odd run-in with local police officers, who have tried to cordon him off with traffic cones.

Neil appears to be particularly fond of traffic cones. Credit: @NEILTHESEAL22 | Instagram

However, Neil appears to have quite the affinity for the orange objects and has befriended several of them on his travels.

Local resident Amber initially thought somebody was breaking into her car when she heard a noise outside her house. Instead she discovered Neil blocking her driveway.

"It's going to go down in the books as the best excuse in the history of not to going to work," she added.

Neil's antics quickly spread across social media, and he is now somewhat of a star, with tens of thousands of followers online.

The seal even has his own Instagram account - @NEILTHESEAL22 - which has been set up by a Tasmanian resident.

But this week the account posted to say that after taking advice from marine biologists, it would no longer post his up-to-date location to ensure his safety.

Neil the seal has become popular online, and has attracted tens of thousands of followers on social media. Credit: @NEILTHESEAL22 | Instagram

It comes as Neil's rising fame has caused for marine experts to express concerns over his welfare.

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, southern seal elephants will move their bulk with speed if harassed, which can become dangerous to humans.

Marine Expert Professor Mary-Anne Lea said: "People are absolutely fascinated and enamored, and I think they should feel incredibly fortunate to see an animal like a southern elephant seal up close or on social media.

"But to remember that he's part of a recovering endangered population and to keep their distance."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…