DoC Hawke's Bay operations manager Dave Carlton says New Zealand fur seals (kekeno) are frequent visitors during the winter months but humans need to keep their distance.

Seals can turn up in unexpected places, and it is common for them to lie immobile for long periods of time on beaches and rocks.

The increase in seals along the coast gives people the opportunity to view seal behaviour they may not previously have seen. This leads to a seasonal surge in seal-related phone calls to the Department of Conservation.

"Kekeno often look skinny and emaciated, or appear as though they are crying, sneezing, coughing, or fighting," Mr Carlton said. "Young pups may be left alone for several days while the mother is away feeding. This is all a natural part of a seal's life cycle."

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It is important to remember that this behaviour, and the physical condition of the seals themselves, is normal.

"Winter is a time for rest and recuperation for kekeno. They are very resilient, and they use the shoreline as a warm and dry refuge from the open ocean."

If you come across a seal that has been injured, or one that is in danger of being harmed or causing harm, call the DoC hotline at 0800 362 468.