A seal holidaying 28km from the ocean in Twyford is on the move, allaying fears it may have been up a local creek without a paddle.
The seal turned up at a rural property in Twyford, Hastings, last week after apparently making its way inland from the Clive River mouth on the coast between Napier and Hastings, via the Karamu and Raupare streams.
Yesterday, the seal had moved to the Karamu Stream in Havelock North, closer to the ocean.
DoC is advising people to keep clear of the wandering pinniped, and have warned there is "quite a stiff penalty" for persons caught harassing a seal.
Anyone charged with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal faces a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment or a fine to maximum of $250,000.
"It's a pretty standard message. Treat them with respect and leave them alone," says Department of Conservation senior ranger Chris Wootton.
All seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978. It's an offence to harass, disturb, injure or kill marine mammals.
• Premium - On Hawke's Bay coastline, a new seal colony forms
• Premium - Stone-throwing teens target seal colony forming in Hawke's Bay, Clive
• Fur seal found dead on Westshore beach
• 'It seems to be moving quickly': The Hawke's Bay seal loving life 28km from the sea
"A seal inland is not unusual, they do that from time to time. I am confident it will find its way back," Wootton said.
Sometimes seals "just wander off", Wootton said.
"They do that from time to time, sometimes they just want to get away from their whānau," he joked.
He said the seal should be treated with respect, people should maintain a distance of 20m particularly if they had children, and dogs should be kept on a leash at all times.
"Seals have really sharp teeth and dogs and seals don't mix," Wootton said.
If people spot the seal in trouble, or see someone harming it they can report the incident by calling 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).