Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Lounging leopard seal spotted in Lyall Bay

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is urging members of the public to keep their distance from a visiting leopard seal that’s been spotted lounging on Lyall Bay beach today.

“Leopard seals do sometimes make an appearance on Wellington beaches at this time of year,” DOC Kapiti/Wellington Marine Ranger, Leon Berard said.

“But it’s important to remember that these are wild animals.”

“Although they can look lethargic when they’re lying on the beach, they can move very quickly. They’re large natural predators, and the largest of the species can grow up to 500kg.

“They have a strong bite and can be more aggressive than fur seals.”

DOC advises people to stay at least 20 metres away from the leopard seal and to keep their dogs under control.

“Try not to startle the seal. If you do find yourself closer than expected, keep calm and quietly move out of its space.”

Leopard seals are a protected species, normally found along the edge of the Antarctic pack ice. An increasing number are visiting New Zealand shores, including visiting Oriental Parade boat sheds and Owhiro Bay Wellington over the last three years.

“We’re extremely lucky to see this incredible marine mammal on our beach and should treat it with respect,” says Mr Berard.

“Having one of Antarctica’s carnivores on our doorstep happens very occasionally. It’s a long journey, and while they’re here they deserve to be given space and time to rest.”

Wellington City Council animal control has been notified of the seal for dog control purposes.

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