Seals Seek Shelter in Wellington City: An Unusual Sight Becomes Common
A Unique Visitor in the City
Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, has recently experienced an increase in seal sightings. These marine creatures are venturing into the city seeking shelter from harsh weather conditions. Among the unusual visitors were a rare leopard seal found lounging at Freyberg Beach and a fur seal pup that caused a minor disruption to train services as it nestled between the tracks in Ngauranga.
‘Silly Seal Season’ in Full Swing
According to Tony Milner, a marine reserve ranger from the Department of Conservation (DOC), this phenomenon is not out of the ordinary, especially during what they term as the ‘silly seal season’. During this period, weaned pups are more likely to interact with the public, leading to an increase in calls to the DOC regarding seal sightings and interactions.
Growth of the Seal Colony at Red Rocks
The seal colony at Red Rocks, located on Wellington’s south coast, has been expanding over the past ten months. This growth has resulted in an increase in seal sightings in different locations around the city. Milner expressed enthusiasm at the thriving seal population, indicating a healthy marine ecosystem.
Ensuring Safety: KiwiRail and the Department of Conservation
KiwiRail, New Zealand’s rail network operator, plays a significant role in ensuring the safety of seals found on rail tracks. In an instance where a fur seal pup was found on the tracks, a KiwiRail employee was deputised to safely relocate the seal to a secure location.
Leopard seals, however, pose a greater challenge due to their large teeth and jaws. A leopard seal found on Freyberg Beach was cordoned off with clear signage warning the public to maintain a safe distance.
Public Advisory: Keep a Safe Distance
The DOC strongly advises the public to keep at least 20 metres away from seals for both human safety and the animal’s welfare. The public is further cautioned against feeding seals or attempting to handle them. As resilient wild animals, seals will usually find their way home given time and space. However, they can pose a threat and carry infectious diseases. The DOC maintains a ‘hands-off’ approach to seals but can be contacted for assistance if a seal appears to be in distress.
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