Tauranga resident Carole Meredith came across a kekeno, or New Zealand fur seal, today while walking around Mauao.
The seal had come ashore near North Rock on the ocean side of Mauao.
“I was walking around the Mount when a man stopped me and said ‘look down there, there’s a seal’,” says Carole. “So I did and got out my camera and filmed it.
“Just before I started filming it vomited up all this yellow stuff over the rocks, so I did wonder if it was sick. Then it clambered over the rocks down onto the shelly part of the rock area. It was right down at the base of the Mount, and we were viewing it from above.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one up this close on Mauao, because they’ve always been swimming out further or I saw one once sunning itself over further by the rock outcrops.”
Seals have previously been reported coming ashore around the Mount area between August and November.
The Department of Conservation website states that from July to September each year there’s an influx in adolescent seals appearing on our shores and further inland. This is because seal pups begin to wean as their mothers prepare for new pups.
DOC recommends that on finding a New Zealand fur seal it’s usually best to leave it alone, however, there are exceptions.
DOC takes a ‘hands off’ approach to seals. Seals are capable and resilient and given time and space, they usually find their way home.
Seals are wild animals and will defend themselves if they feel threatened. Adult seals can move surprisingly quickly on land. While they can look harmless, seals can inflict serious injuries to dogs or people and can carry infectious diseases.
It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal. A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution.
DOC provide safety guidelines when watching seals. You should stay at least 20 m away, don’t disturb seals by making loud noises or throwing things, keep dogs and children away, don’t feed the seals, and never attempt to touch a seal.
More information on seals and what to do if you come across one can be found on the Department of Conservation website http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/marine-mammals/seals/nz-fur-seal/what-to-do/