It's that time of year when it becomes common to spot seals on beaches around Hawke's Bay's coastlines.

Between July and September, it's not unusual for people to encounter seals resting at the beach, says Hawke's Bay Department of Conservation office.

Shaun Fraser had this experience on Sunday, spotting what DOC said is a kekeno/New Zealand fur seal lying ashore at Ocean Beach. Fraser was able to take some photos of the resting seal from a distance.

"This is normal behaviour for seals and mostly we're reminding people to just leave seals alone to rest and give them space if they are encountered on a beach," DOC Hawke's Bay senior community ranger Chris Wootton said.


"Seals can also often appear weepy-eyed, which is just how they can appear on land and not a cause for concern.

He said kekeno are becoming more common but other species of seal also show up sometimes.

"Most recently our team responded to a leopard seal reported at Ocean Beach. We're always keen to record sightings of these more unusual seals or any other marine mammal sightings, such as whales or dolphins.

"It's great to have wildlife as part of our coastal Te Matau a Māui neighbourhood. It's OK to observe these wild animals, but very important to keep a 20-metre distance and encourage others to do the same."

Wootton said dog owners should always keep animals on a lead in coastal areas and stressed the need to be careful as dogs can attack and kill seals and seals can also return nasty bites.

Children should also be kept away from seals as even if they look quiet and sluggish, they can be easily provoked.

It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure or kill a seal. A dog owner whose dog attacks a seal could face prosecution.

DOC would like to receive reports if a seal is causing safety concerns or there is a concern for its welfare. Reports of marine animals can be made on the DOC website.