Date: 13 July 2012
You may have noticed there seem to be a good number of New Zealand fur seals/kekeno resting and sunning themselves on Northland beaches and in Northland harbours at the moment.
At this time of year, as the weather cools, seals head north for warmer waters. July and August is also known as the ‘hauling out’ season as seals, which often are weaned pups, come ashore to rest sometimes in what seem like unusual places.
New Zealand fur seal relaxing on the Poor Knights Islands
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is receiving a high number of calls in regards to seals being sighted. Generally, the seals are fine and just resting and although they look very cute with their large’ puppy dog’ eyes, they need to be given space and be left to rest.
DOC Biodiversity Ranger Christian Macdonald advises that:
- Under no circumstances should you touch a seal as they can easily become aggressive.
- Do not feed the seal – feeding them fish or human food disrupts their natural diet.
- You should not get closer than 20 metres to the seal as they can move surprisingly fast on land, have large teeth, and can bite with more strength than a large dog.
- Observe them quietly and do not disturb them.
- Do not get between the seal and its access to water.
- Always keep dogs and children away from seals.
The eyes of seals often weep, says Christian, and seals may seem lethargic or have poor fur condition. This is normal and the seals are best left to their own devices.
DOC maintains a hands off policy unless the seals are in real and immediate danger, severely injured, entangled in marine debris or being harassed by people or dogs.
If this is the case please call the DOC hotline 0800 362 468 or during work hours contact DOC Whangarei Area Office on +64 9 470 3304.
DOC has experienced staff to deal with marine mammals and will respond appropriately.