Fur seal resting at Mauao
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Winter is a time for foraging and resting for seals around the Bay of Plenty coast.

Date:  15 June 2018

Bay of Plenty residents may notice an increase in the number of New Zealand fur seals/kekeno resting and sunning themselves on beaches and harbours at the moment.

At this time of year, as the weather cools, seals head north for warmer waters. July and August are known as the ‘hauling out’ months for seals, when weaned pups come ashore to rest, sometimes in what seem like unusual places.

DOC Tauranga Office is expecting to receive a higher number of calls regarding seals being sighted at this time of the year. 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 Community Ranger Tracy Mezger advises that:

  • kekeno are wild animals and under no circumstances should you try to touch them as they will defend their territory aggressively
  • 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.

Sneezing and coughing, says Mezger, are normal kekeno habits. They may also appear to be crying or have poor fur condition. These are typical behaviours and the seals are best left alone to rest. 

However, at times they can turn up in awkward places. Their presence on roads, in backyards or at businesses near streams and harbours can be alarming to the public.

While 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; there is also sometimes a need to ‘move’ a seal along, from roads or other busy ‘people areas’. 

If this is the case please call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or during work hours contact the Tauranga DOC Office. DOC has experienced staff to deal with marine mammals and will respond appropriately as soon as practicable.

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