Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Seal Watch: 2017

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More seals are popping up at the Mount to enjoy the warmer weather now that spring is on its way.

The cute little pinnipeds have been delighting – and occasionally terrifying – Tauranga and Mount Maunganui residents they share the beach with.

Although people can take photos and videos, it is important to keep some distance – at least 20 metres, according to the Department of Conservation.

It’s also vital for dog owners to keep an eye on their pet around seals. In 2016, a seal pup was killed by a dog at Pukehina Beach.

Holidaymaker Victoria Herrick told SunLive at the time, “the dog had a grip on its head and was just tossing it about”.

Owners of dogs that attack or harass seals can face prosecution under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and up to two years in jail or a fine of up to $250,000.

However, as dogs are prohibited on the Mount Maunganui main beach, from Leisure Island (Moturiki) to Mauao, they should pose no threat to the latest batch of marine visitors.

A seal swimming in Pilot Bay.

That being said, seals can occasionally be a threat to humans, which is why the 20 metre rule is for the safety of both the animal and people around it.

In September of last year, a leopard seal came ashore at the Mount to sun itself on the beach. Lifeguard Kent Jarman was shocked at the time to see how close people were getting to creature, which was of a species known to attack and kill humans.

“DoC had placed two signs about three metres away saying keep 20 metres away, but of course everyone stood where the signs were. I stopped two young women who looked like they wanted to give it a pat.”

So as cute as they might be, best practice suggests enjoying the seal spectacle from afar.

Comments on SunLive

Seals and dogs.

Posted on 29-08-2017 20:12 | By drob

Today on the beach near Tay Street I saw a dog attack a baby seal and drive it into the sea. The owner looked on and did nothing. Unfortunately I was so angry and busy telling this person what I thought of him that I didn’t get any info. He was a large/fat man with one small dog on a lead and another running loose.
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