Marine mammals are visiting the Coromandel Peninsula coastline more frequently thanks to the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978. The Act gives complete protection to mammals such as seals and sea lions and because of that protection the coastline is dotted with weaned pups, juveniles and bachelors during spring.
New Zealand fur seal
Department of Conservation (DOC) asks that the seals are left alone. ‘If encountered, it is best to give seals a wide berth, do not feed them, stay at least ten metres away, never get between a seal and the sea, and don’t let children or dogs near them. Approaching too closely can create a stressful situation for the seal, and a dangerous situation for humans’, says Kristina Hillock marine ecologist for DOC.
Seals turn up in unexpected places, they usually move on when they are ready and only rarely do they need help.
You can help by understanding their habits and appreciating their quirks. Regurgitating, sneezing and coughing are all common seal habits. Seals sometimes look as though they are crying. They drift in the waves, flap their flippers, fight and lie immobile for long periods. Pups happily spend time alone while their mothers fish. These behaviours are completely normal.
If you find a seal that is severely injured or entangled in marine debris, or being harassed by people or dogs, call the DOC hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)