A New Zealand fur seal pup, found entangled in a piece of fishing net, was set free by Department of Conservation staff on Wednesday.
The young seal was spotted on Hougton Bay beach within the Taputeranga Marine Reserve by a local resident, who immediately alerted the department.
“It’s always distressing to find wildlife entangled in marine debris or litter,” says DOC spokesperson Kirstie Knowles. “Discarded nets and other marine pollution can pose a serious threat to our wildlife.”
Entangled seal pup, Houghton Bay,
The pup had abrasions around the neck caused by the net, but otherwise looked in good health, swimming straight out to sea once detangled.
“We were lucky to get a call about this animal and were able to free it from the net Fur seals are resilient animals and we expect the pup to make a full recovery,” says Kirstie Knowles. “Other seals haven’t been so fortunate”.
Members of the public can help by picking up any discarded fishing materials and other marine debris if they find it around our coasts.
Fur seals (kekeno) are the most common seals in New Zealand waters. They feed mainly on squid and small mid-water fish but also take larger species such as conger eels, barracuda, jack mackerel and hoki, in depths greater than 22 m.
June is the middle of the winter haul-out season, when adults are raising pups and putting on weight in preparation for the birth of new pups over the summer. Once weaned, pups are strong swimmers and can travel long distances around the coast.
While fur seals may look cute, all seals should be treated with caution. They have large teeth, and can become aggressive.
If members of the public find a seal that is severely injured, or entangled in marine debris, or being harassed by people or dogs, call the DOC HOTline 0800 362 468.