The Northland Age
Sight of fur seal on road a first for North farmer
When I got home I
said to my wife Melanie that we’re going to diversify our stock and get
into a new breed. Then I showed her the photographs [of
the seal] and she couldn’t believe it. Pakotai farmer David Wilson
Pakotai farmer David Wilson was on his way to Kaikohe on Wednesday with some pigs when he came across an entirely different and totally unexpected beast in the middle of the state highway — a fur seal that was around 30 kilometres from the sea.
Wilson said seeing the marine mammal in the road made his day and he just had to stop to get a photograph as he had never seen, or even heard of, a seal being that far up the Mangakahia Rd / SH15. He has been farming there for more than 30 years and his family has lived in the area for almost 100 years — and despite contacting several other people with long ties to the area, no one had heard of a seal being that far inland before.
This is the time of year seals come ashore, but Wilson said he never expected to see one so far away from the ocean. Seals are regular visitors to
Northland and in June one was seen in the Whangārei suburb of Ō tangarei.
“We’re about halfway between both coasts here, so he is a long way from where he should be. We informed the Department of Conservation and they came out to have a look for him, but he couldn’t be found,” he said.
“They’re hoping somebody else spots him and reports it to them or that he makes his way back [to the sea]. They don’t really want him out and about here as he could get attacked by dogs or get run over if he’s on the road like that.”
Wilson was heading to Kaikohe about 2.30pm on Wednesday when he realised he’d forgot some mutton he was going to have turned into sausages so headed back. As he came around a corner he saw three people on the road taking photographs. He realised they were taking photos of a seal so thought he’d stop
and get some of the unusual sight too.
He said he has seen some strange things on Mangakahia Rd over the years, but this was the first time he’d seen a seal — and he never thought he would see one there.
“He probably came up the Northern Wairoa River from Dargaville way. I reckon he was looking for a short cut to the east coast. The funny thing is he’s only about a kilometre away from a stream that would take him all the way to the Hātea River [and into Whangārei Harbour].”
Wilson reckoned the seal would probably not get too many fish in the area at the moment as mullets weren’t running yet.
“There are a lot of eels around and he might get the odd trout, but there are not a lot of fish around at all for him.”
He suspected it was the same seal that had been seen further up the Opouteke River three weeks ago.
“When I got home I said to my wife Melanie that we’re going to diversify our stock and get into a new breed. Then I showed her the photographs [of the seal] and she couldn’t believe it. It just made my day really,” the beef farmer said.
The Department of Conservation will intervene if a seal is in notably poor condition; in immediate danger; tangled in debris; causing disruption eg being in the middle of a road; or being harassed.
What to do if you’re concerned?
Is the seal in danger, injured or being harassed? If so, call the hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468). Never attempt to move or handle a seal yourself. It’s important not to separate a mother and her pup.