Introduction

New Zealand fur seals (kekeno) are frequent visitors at this time of year but humans need to keep their distance.

Date:  21 September 2016

Every year, DOC receives numerous calls from people concerned about seals coming ashore. Although they are marine mammals, kekeno spend a lot on time on land.

"Seals need to come ashore to rest, they don't want to be disturbed by people or dogs," says Sue Moore, Biodiversity Ranger with DOC Manawatu. "At this time of the year, it is quite common to see young seals alone on the beach. Last year's pups are being weaned, and mum is spending long periods at sea preparing for the coming breeding season."

"Seals turn up in some unexpected places and they may look as if they are crying, sneezing or coughing," says Moore. "But this is normal behaviour for the seals."

Seals are fascinating creatures and DOC encourages people to watch and enjoy them safely from a distance. Following some simple rules will help keep everyone safe.

"They may look harmless but seals can move very quickly if they feel threatened and they do bite" says Moore

It's best to stay at least 20 metres away and don't get between them and the sea. Sometimes they will lie there for long periods and it can be days before they'll head back to the ocean.

Do not try to move a seal or pick it up and take it home. If you come across a seal that has been injured, or one that is in danger of being harmed or causing harm, call the DOC hotline at 0800 362 468.

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