Back off! Buffel the seal beaches himself to shed

Buffel the elephant seal on Fish Hoek beach just wants to be left alone while he goes through his month-long annual moulting process, and he definitely doesn't want anybody poking at him or coming up close for selfies.

Living off his own blubber while he sheds his old skin and not going into the water is a taxing business, and even though he looks relaxed, the sight of somebody turning their back close up for a selfie can show the fast and furious side of the hefty seal, whose name means buffalo.

"The City and Department of Environmental Affairs requests that the public respect the elephant seal during this period and stay at least 10 metres away when viewing and photographing him," councillor Marian Nieuwoudt said in a statement.

Tape has been put up to demarcate the area, a permanent shark spotter is stationed there to keep people at bay and residents have been asked to abide by the temporary rules.

Nieuwoudt urged parents to keep their children under close supervision, to keep their dogs on leashes and to stay at least 10 metres away from the animal.

She asked people to not feed the seal, throw water on it, or create a disturbance close to it.

"In particular, taking selfies with your back turned to the animal and within close proximity is strictly prohibited.

"These seals can also move deceptively fast when on the beach and are extremely dangerous when they feel uneasy or cornered," she said.

Buffel, seal
(Supplied)