Seals have been showing up in many different areas around Tauranga, including industrial areas and popular walking spots.

Department of Conservation Tauranga operations ranger Karl McCarthy said there had been 36 sightings of New Zealand fur seals around the Tauranga coastline since June.

"Seals typically haul out over the winter months," McCarthy said.

"We are expecting to see an influx of juveniles over the coming months as the pups are weaned off mum and disperse into new areas."

Advertisement

The latest seal sighting was far from the ocean around the Kopurererua Valley Reserve.

Francesca Rae was taking the dogs for a walk around K-Valley near Faulkner St about 10am on Sunday when she spotted the seal sleeping in the grass.

"It was just sort of lying there having a nap," she said.

"It looked like a big old boulder but when I looked closer it was breathing, and I realised it was a seal."

Rae said the seal was attracting plenty of bystanders and stopped to take a few photos on her phone.

"He is a frequent visitor, she said.

"If I was walking on the beach I might have expected to see one, but not by the 17th Ave walkway. It was out of the blue."

Rae called the Department of Conservation after becoming concerned the seal was sleeping near what was a popular dog walk with locals.

"One dog did have a quick sniff before the seal scared him away," she said.

Department of Conservation Tauranga community ranger Tracy Mezger said dog owners should keep their pets on a leash around the sea animals.

"Often times seals will be motionless while resting on land and hard to see," she said.

"A startled dog can behave unpredictably resulting in seal attacks or death."

Tauranga marine expert Nathan Pettigrew spotted a seal on rocks at Leisure Island, near where people were fishing, on Sunday.

He was out picking up rubbish on the island when he almost tripped over the seal pup.

Pettigrew said the number of seal sightings was increasing and he had counted as many as six around Mauao in the past few weeks.

Pettigrew urged people to take care when playing on the rocks and to give the seals space if they spotted one.

The hijinks of a seal named Sammy attracted a lot of attention when it arrived at the Tauranga Marina about a week ago and had a close encounter.

Judea businessmen have also been keeping an eye on a seal, believed to weigh about 70kg-plus, which was hanging around the industrial area on Koromiko St last month.

Tauranga Diesel Specialists workshop supervisor Graham Hayes said the seal had not been spotted in the area since.


SEAL SIGHTINGS:
- July: Kopurererua Valley Reserve
- July: Leisure Island
- July: Around Mauao
- July: Tauranga Marina
- June: Koromiko St
- 2011: A wandering baby fur-seal wriggled through the cat-door of a Welcome Bay house and made himself at home on the couch
- 2016: A leopard seal holidaying at Mount Main Beach

What to do if you see a seal:
- Stay 20m back and enjoy the experience
- Put your dog on a lead when you are within 20m
- Lead your dog away
- Do not get between the seal and its escape route to the sea
- Warn other dog owners at the location
- Dog owners could face prosecution under the Marine Mammals Protection Act if their dog was found to have attacked a seal
- If a seal is entangled in marine debris, being harassed by dogs or people or is severely injured, please call the DOC hotline – 0800 362 468
Source: Department of Conservation