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


DOC is asking people to keep their distance from a leopard seal at Havelock Marina.

Date:  10 December 2021

The leopard seal has been seen several times at Havelock Marina in recent weeks and was spotted there again today (Friday, 10 December).

“We ask people to give the leopard seal space and keep at least 20 metres away from it,” says DOC Sounds Operations Manager Dave Hayes.

“Leopard seals are wild animals and will defend themselves if they feel threatened.

“Although the large size of leopard seals can make them appear slow, they can in fact move surprisingly quickly on land and even faster in the water. They can be aggressive if agitated and lunge powerfully and quickly. Their strong jaws can inflict serious injury.

“Try not to startle the seal. If you do find yourself closer than expected, keep calm and quietly move out of its space.

“People should keep dogs away from seals and make sure their dogs don’t harass seals.”

The leopard seal has a gash on its forehead but given leopard seals can be aggressive, it’s not feasible to treat it and it’s hoped it will heal naturally.

If the leopard seal is basking on the beach or swimming around in the sea and is fine then people should just leave it be, but if it is seen in a situation in which it poses a threat to the public or is at risk, people should contact DOC on the DOC 24-hour emergency number 0800 DOCHOT (0800 36 24 68).

Leopard seals are a protected species, mostly found around sub-Antarctic and Antarctic areas. They are sometimes seen around New Zealand shores, including in the top of the South Island.

“Leopard seals aren’t often seen here but when they visit they should be respected and observed from a safe distance,” says Dave Hayes.


For media enquiries contact:


Back to top