A kekeno pup having a rest on Napier’s Marine Parade beach
Image: DOC


A social media video showing a man harassing a seal pup on a New Zealand beach is under serious investigation by DOC.

Date:  24 October 2023

The video shows a man in a wetsuit grabbing the young kekeno by the scruff of its neck and putting it into a bag. 

It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure, or kill a seal. 

Matt Davis, Principal Investigation Officer, says the behaviour is inexcusable and will bear consequences for the offender. 

“The video is quite distressing, showing someone handling a seal very roughly and possibly injuring the animal. DOC has a range of enforcement tools available for punishment of wildlife crimes, including fines, infringements, or a prosecution through the courts which can lead to a jail sentence. 

“While we don’t yet know the full circumstances, there is no excuse for treating a seal like this.” 

The penalties for harassing, disturbing, injuring, or killing a marine mammal under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 are a maximum two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000. 

DOC’s advice is to never touch or handle a seal. People should keep a distance of at least 20 metres from kekeno, if possible, and not get between the seal and the sea. 

DOC is actively investigating this incident. If you see anyone disturbing fur seals call the DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) and report it. 


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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