Leopard seal at Petone beach
Image: Giverny Forbes | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


A leopard seal sighted today at Petone Beach in Lower Hutt is in excellent health and likely just taking a breather in the spring sun, says a DOC ranger.

Date:  08 September 2022

The animal was first reported at about 8:30 on Thursday morning (8 September), with a small crowd gathering to watch the leopard seal from a safe distance. The seal is a sub-adult and measures approximately 2.5 metres long.

DOC Biodiversity Ranger David Moss says it’s good to see people respecting the impressive animal’s personal space.

“We ask people to stay at least 20 metres away from the leopard seal,” says David, “and people are keeping well clear, which we appreciate. If there is cordon tape in place, staying behind that is even safer.

“Leopard seals are apex predators and can be aggressive if they are agitated. Leaving them alone and admiring from afar is the best option for both the seal and onlookers.

“Leopard seals like this aren’t uncommon, with three or four showing up on Wellington beaches each year. This particular seal appears to be in good health.”

It is normal behaviour for a leopard seal or other marine mammal to bask on the beach or swim in the sea. Dogs should be leashed and children kept away to ensure their safety.

If the animal appears injured or may pose a risk to others, call the DOC HOT line on 0800 36 24 68.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

Back to top