Pinnipeds are divided into three families: walruses, true seals and eared seals. True seals do not have external ears, cannot turn their hind flippers forward (therefore can not walk on them), and have fur on both surfaces of their flippers. New Zealand examples include the leopard seal and southern elephant seal.
Eared seals include fur seals and sea lions. They have external ears, hind flippers they can turn forward under the body and walk on and no fur on the under side of their flippers. New Zealand examples are the New Zealand fur seal and New Zealand sea lion.
A large group of seals during breeding is called a harem. Adult males are called bulls and females are called cows, while a young seal is a pup. Immature males are sometimes called SAMs (sub-adult males) or bachelors.
All seals, whales and dolphins are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.
DOC is interested in sightings of New Zealand sea lions, and any tagged New Zealand fur seals. You can also report sightings of any other seal species spotted in New Zealand.
Report sightings using our online form.
A behind-the-scenes look at DOC's conservation work.
New Zealand fur seals on their big OE
10 August 2017
Kekeno/New Zealand fur seals have something unusual in common with many young New Zealanders: they're partial to the kiwi 'big OE'.
What to do if you find a seal
28 July 2017
Have you found a seal in an unusual place or it looks injured? Here's what to do when you find a New Zealand fur seal and why.
Videos about fur seal
Meet the Locals video (series 4)
Nic finds out about how the NZ fur seal is making a return from the brink of extinction. Filmed in the Nelson/Marlborough region.
Meet the Locals video (series 6)
Visit young kekeno (New Zealand fur seals).
Before the arrival of humans a population of about 2 million kekeno/NZ fur seal inhabited New Zealand