Leopard Seal on Petone Beach

Leopard Seal on Petone Beach (Dylan Fraser)
Leopard Seal on Petone Beach (Dylan Fraser)

Police have set up a barrier on Petone Beach this morning after a Leopard Seal was spotted by the water.

DOC have been notified and are monitoring the seal.

The seal is currently on the beach near the Settlers Museum.

“They are the only seals known to regularly hunt and kill warm-blooded prey, including other seals. Although rare, there are a few records of adult leopard seals attacking humans. There has also been one fatality, when a researcher was snorkelling in Antarctic waters and was killed by a leopard seal.”

Leopard seals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 and the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.

Seals are wild animals and will defend themselves if they feel threatened. While they can look harmless, leopard seals can swivel around very quickly from their resting position to attack and can inflict serious injuries to dogs or people. They also can carry infectious diseases.

Follow these simple guidelines when watching seals for your safety and that of the animals:

-Stay at least 20 m away
-Don’t disturb seals by making loud noises or throwing things
-Keep dogs and children away
-Don’t feed the seals
-Never attempt to touch a seal.

It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 (MMPA) to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal. A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution. Anyone charged under the MMPA with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a seal faces a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment or a fine to a maximum of $250,000.

Police barrier – image by Troy Murray

(Information from the DOC website)

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