An elderly man is in serious condition in hospital this morning after he was ambushed by a seal at a New Plymouth beach.

Ambulance Control spokeswoman Anita Halbert said they were called to Belt road at 8.15am, where a man in his late 70s was suffering serious lower leg injuries.

'We called the police to let them know the danger involved in the situation, when we arrived the seal was still there," Halbert said.

The victim was transported to Taranaki Base Hospital in serious condition. Department of Conservation staff were also called to the scene to attend to the seal.


The ranger who attended found it basking on a nearby rock and set to work shooing it back into the ocean, Department of Conservation Partnerships manager Ngamotu New Plymouth Darryn Ratana said.

"Our thoughts go to the gentleman who was attacked and to his family, hoping for a speedy recovery," Ratana said.

Seals have huge teeth and can have a very nasty bite and can carry diseases. Usually they would only attack if provoked, but in this case the victim was simply walking along the walkway when the seal ambushed him, Ratana said.

Although some locals had been asking for fencing along the coastal walkway, that was not needed, he said. "It is a lovely walkway and I think the people of New Plymouth want to keep it the way it is."

Ratana said he would instead be discussing improved warning signage with New Plymouth District Council.

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