New Zealand

Sunning seal spotted in Whakatane

16:35 pm on 27 December 2018

A furry surprise has been spotted in Whakatane soaking up some sun with the locals.

A seal was spotted below the Landing Road Bridge in Whakatane. Photo: Facebook / Sharon Honatana

A Whakatane resident posted to Facebook saying she spotted the seal below the Landing Road Bridge at around 12pm.

She says the seal brought crowds of people to the spot.

"It moved very quickly from the river's edge to someone's hedge."

The Department of Conservation (DOC) recommends that on finding a seal it's usually best to leave it alone, however, there are exceptions.

DOC takes a 'hands off' approach to seals. Seals are capable and resilient and given time and space, they usually find their way home.

Seals are wild animals and will defend themselves if they feel threatened. Adult seals can move surprisingly quickly on land. While they can look harmless, seals can inflict serious injuries to dogs or people and can carry infectious diseases.

It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal. A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution.

DOC provide safety guidelines when watching seals. You should 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, and never attempt to touch a seal.

More information on seals and what to do if you come across one can be found on the Department of Conservation website.

This article was first published on the SunLive website.