IT looked "distressed, sick and dying", witnesses say, but this seal had its own reasons for loitering off Nobbys on Monday.
As the Hunter rested on the third day of the long weekend, Maryville's Edel Sarmiento Baggs spotted the flippered critter near the break wall on Monday morning.
"It has been just floating upside down for hours and hours," she said.
"We rang the authorities to let them know about the heartbreaking scene and asked for rescue only to find out the seal was perfectly fine."
Lingering in the sunshine, Ms Baggs said the seal "went back to catch some fish and floating".
Ms Baggs said ORRCA experts told her that seals often basked to raise their body temperature, and speculated it was a young male New Zealand fur seal about four years old.
"Apparently when they have several flippers up, it generally means that they are soaking in the sunlight," she said.
The seal playing possum may have been struggling for real estate had he headed closer to the sandy shoreline, with hundreds enjoying the rare combination of beautiful weather and a public holiday in October.
Bureau of Meteorology figures at 1pm showed only Norah Head and Murrurundi Gap had managed to stay below 30 degrees, although readings from Maitland and Nelson Bay were not updated since 9am.
The mercury is expected to dip on Tuesday before falling slowly back towards 20 degrees and showers in Maitland and Newcastle by Thursday.