Seals' night cries worry tourists

By Pippa Brown of Hawke's Bay Today -
Tourists say they are distressed by the sound of seals crying at the Napier marine park at night.
Photo / Glenn Taylor
Tourists say they are distressed by the sound of seals crying at the Napier marine park at night. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Tourists say they are distressed by the sound of Marineland's seals crying at night as the doors to the Napier marine park remain firmly closed.

German tourist Janina Jankowski recently stayed in accommodation on Marine Parade and has heard the seals at night.

"What are they doing in there and how do they live,'' she asked. "You wonder when you hear them cry. I want to know if the animals are OK.''

She had asked staff at the Napier i-SITE and was told the council was looking for a solution and the seals were being looked after very well. But no one seemed to be really happy about further questions, she said.

Adrian Sastre, a visitor from Spain, had been living on the Parade for 10 months and shared her concerns.

"Every night I hear the seals start to cry,'' he said. "The place is closed but the animals are still there.''

Ms Jankowski said the public needed to be kept more informed. ``You see a lot of people looking through the holes [in the fence] trying to find out what has happened.

When you don't know or can't see what is in there it is hard to know if the animals are sick or what condition they are in. If the original attraction is gone why is it taking so long?''

The manager of Andy's Backpackers on Marine Parade, Belinda Vearer, said a few tourists asked what was going to happen with the animals.

"It (Marineland) was a real drawcard for Napier and it's a real shame it is not doing anything,'' she added.

Manager Tourism Services Neil Fergus said the seals had always made a noise at night, particularly during the mating season, which it was now.

"It's quite common and not a new phenomenon,'' he said

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott announced last year that the tourism attraction was to close permanently and the animals would be relocated to alternative facilities.

A few weeks later the community group, Friends of Marineland, filed court proceedings seeking judicial review of the council's decision, to keep the marine facility from being permanently closed and dismantled, claiming there had not been proper consultation. It is yet to be heard.

The Friends of Marineland group propose it be redeveloped and revitalised as New Zealand's leading "green'' tourism facility with eco-education and live animals as the key to its success.

Marineland opened in 1965 and operated as a major tourist attraction. It closed after the last dolphin, Kelly, died in 2008.

There are estimated to be about 50 animals left, including seals, sea lions, penguins and marine birds.

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