The Department of Conservation (DOC) have been receiving the usual seasonal spate of phone calls from the public concerned about the welfare of seals on Eastern Bay of Plenty beaches.
The public are reminded that it is common for seals to come ashore between July and October to rest, particularly after a storm. They are resilient and best left to themselves,says Field Centre Supervisor Fiona Hennessey.
“Seals usually need rest, not rescuing. Seal pups have been weaned and are learning to make their own way in the world. They come ashore to rest before they head out to sea again for food.
“Please be extra vigilant and keep dogs under control. Seals can move quickly on land and adult seals are capable of inflicting serious injuries to dogs. Parents should also keep their children away from seals.
“They are wild animals and will defend their territory aggressively. They carry infectious diseases and their teeth can inflict serious injuries", says Ms Hennessey.
Regurgitating, sneezing and coughing are 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.
The following rules for observing seals are designed to protect both the seal and the observers:
- Observe the seal quietly
- Always keep dogs and small children well away from seals
- Avoid getting nearer than 20 metres to the seal
- Do not touch the seal under any circumstances
- Do not get between the seal and its access to water
“We would appreciate if people would abide by these guidelines to ensure the animals and their own safety” says Ms Hennessey.
DOC relationship with seals is based on ‘minimum intervention.’ 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 362 468.