DOC Auckland Marine Ranger Aari Hale says winter is a time when juvenile seals go exploring and end up in unexpected places.
“So far this winter we’ve had young fur seals appear at a number of public places near the Manukau shoreline", says Aari. "We've seen them on and under the old Mangere Bridge, in a Papakura street, a Takanini reserve - and on Cornwallis Wharf".
“If you see a seal in a public place, remember these are wild animals, so don’t get too close. To keep safe, stay at least 20 metres away from a seal and keep children under your control and away from the seal".
New Zealand fur seals are a protected native species, so keep the seal safe by also keeping dogs under control and away from the seal.
If you see a seal that’s severely injured, entangled in marine debris such as a fishing net, or being harassed by dogs or people, please call the DOC Hotline on 0800 362 468.
New Zealand fur seals once lived and bred around the coast of both the North and South Islands. But hunting, by Maori and then from the 1790s by European sealers, brought the species to the brink of extinction.
An estimated two million New Zealand fur seal were clubbed to death in the early 1800s to make fur seal hats and coats. Oil from their bodies was burned in lamps for lighting.
By the 1830s the New Zealand fur seal was almost extinct. Sealing was finally banned in 1894. Since then their numbers have been slowly increasing. As the population grows fur seals have been gradually re-colonising our coastline, spreading from the south of the South Island.
In 1991, almost 100 years after sealing was banned, New Zealand fur seals began breeding again at Cape Palliser, at the very bottom of the North Island. Since then fur seals have also been gradually recolonising the North Island coast.