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You can help fur seal

New Zealand fur seal, Otago. Photo: Sam O'Leary.
New Zealand fur seal, Otago

Rules for observing seals / sea lions

  • Always stay at least 10 m from seals. Allow them space if they are active.
  • Do not disturb seals. Don’t make loud noises or throw objects in their vicinity.
  • Always keep dogs and small children under control and away from seals.
  • Never attempt to touch or handle seal. They can be aggressive if threatened, and you can carry diseases that can transfer to them and make them ill. You can also catch diseases from seals through their skin, sneezes, coughs and barks.
  • Do not feed any seal.

All seals should be treated with caution. They have large teeth, and can become aggressive. They also move surprisingly fast on land. Fur seals can bite with up to 2 tonnes per cm pressure.

Do not feed seals. Feeding them dead fish and high energy human food disrupts their natural diet. As well as this, bacteria on our skin is harmful to their digestive system.

Do not attempt to move, or assist adults or pups. Even if it is sick or injured it may be capable of inflicting serious injury. Seals also harbour infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans, and are difficult to treat.

When to contact DOC

Call the DOC 24 hour emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) if you find a seal that is:

  • severely injured
  • entangled in marine debris
  • being harassed by people or dogs

They have experienced staff who will respond if this is necessary. When taking your call they will need the following information:

  • Where is the seal and how can they get to it?
  • What species of seal is it? (or a description of what it looks like) What size is it?
  • What is seems to be wrong with it?
  • What is the state of the tide?
  • What are the local weather and sea conditions?

You may be asked to stay with the animal until help arrives, or to give a phone number so you can be contacted again if the animal cannot be found.

Seals sometimes turn up in unexpected places. They usually move on but in some cases they may need help. Call the DOC HOTline, they will know what to do. You cannot keep a kekeno. Possessing a seal without a permit is illegal.

When not to contact DOC

The following is normal behaviour for kekeno:

  • regurgitating, sneezing or coughing
  • "crying" - these are natural moisture secretions
  • a young seal spending time away from its mother
  • drifting in the waves
  • flapping its flippers in the air as if stranded
  • immobile
  • fighting

Seal deal: caring for kekeno together brochure

Understanding is the key to caring for and living side by side with kekeno, the New Zealand fur seal. Learn about the history, biology and behaviour of our most common native pinniped and follow the Kekeno Care Code for your own safety and to help the kekeno thrive.

The seal deal: caring for kekeno together (PDF, 520K)

Postcards

In from the cold – winter (PDF, 311K)
Taking the plunge – spring (PDF, 270K)
On the beach – summer (PDF, 305K)


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Contacts

DOC 24 hour emergency hotline:
0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)

Phone to report:

Seals severely injured, entangled, or being harassed by people or dogs
Whale or dolphin strandings
Sick or injured wildlife

For other enquiries, contact your nearest DOC office