When all seals want is a rest

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

‘‘Leave young seals alone to rest,’’ is the plea from the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion in re­sponse to a sea­sonal spate of calls about ‘‘sick’’ seals on beaches to the DOC emer­gency hot­line.

It is com­mon be­tween July and Oc­to­ber for seal pups to come ashore to rest, par­tic­u­larly after a storm.

This is be­cause they 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, says DOC ranger Wendy New­ton.

‘‘Re­gur­gi­tat­ing, sneez­ing and cough­ing are com­mon seal habits, prob­a­bly to get rid of undi­gested food and, as they don’t have tear ducts, their weepy eyes are a nat­u­ral mech­a­nism to pro­tect their eyes.’’

Seals look scrawny be­cause they are learn­ing to hunt and adapt to the big wide world.

While they might look harm­less, ap­pear­ances can be de­ceiv­ing. Seals are wild an­i­mals and will de­fend ter­ri­tory ag­gres­sively. They carry dis­eases and their teeth can in­flict se­ri­ous in­juries.

Ms New­ton says to keep at least 20 me­tres away and not get be­tween the seal and its es­cape route to the sea. Dog own­ers are re­minded to be vig­i­lant and keep their pets un­der con­trol. Seals can move sur­pris­ingly quickly on land and adult seals are ca­pa­ble of in­flict­ing se­ri­ous in­juries to dogs.

DOC works on a min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion pol­icy, only in­ter­ven­ing if the seal is se­ri­ously in­jured, be­ing ha­rassed by dogs, en­tan­gled in net or rope or in a dan­ger­ous place such as on or near a road. In these sit­u­a­tions, DOC rangers will at­tend and take nec­es­sary action.

If you find a seal that is se­verely in­jured, en­tan­gled in marine de­bris, or be­ing ha­rassed, call DOC on 0800 362 468.

Let me be: Seal pups are a reg­u­lar sight in the area at this time of year, and res­i­dents are warned to keep their dis­tance and not to worry if a seal ap­pears sick.

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