New Zealand fur seals were seen ashore along the Bay of Plenty coastline last week. Department of Conservation staff say seal sightings are to be expected at this time of year, but they warn people to keep their distance and respect the animals if they are seen bathing on the beaches.
DoC recommends seals should be appreciated from a distance of at least 20m.
Dogs must be kept under control around the seals, which are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act. Staff say children should be kept under control around the animals - seals might be fun to watch but they carry diseases and can give a nasty bite.
Coughing, sneezing and watery eyes are normal for seals: it looks strange but they are not sick or injured. But if you see a seal caught in netting or with obvious injuries, or is being harassed by dogs or people, please call the DoC hotline on 0800 362 468.
If you'd like more information about seals, please check the DOC website at http://miniurl.com/121863.