26 September 2023

NPWS call to give space to fur seals on beaches

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Resting seals may soon be seen by holiday makers along Illawarra’s beaches, but the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is warning beach goers to give them some space.

Ranger at NPWS, Jen Bean said fur seals were often seen hauling out on beaches and rocky ledges at this time of year.

“While most hauled out seals return to the water after a few hours or days, some do stay a little longer, like the resident seal at Windang,” Ms Bean said

“Even though he is a regular sight on the shoreline, it is extremely important that people give all seals space,” she said.

“Seals can become very aggressive when frightened or provoked.”

Ms Bean advised people to stay at least 40 metres away from adult seals for their own safety and that of the seal, and said dogs must be controlled on a lead.

She warned that seals could bite and charge at people and dogs if threatened.

The Ranger said seals often fought with each other over territory or a mate, which could result in minor cuts or bites that normally healed quickly without interference.

Ms Bean said animals with minor wounds were monitored by NPWS and generally left alone unless their condition worsened.

“People can help us to protect seals by reporting sightings to NPWS,” she said.

“In most cases we will monitor the animal and set up temporary barriers and signs around to help keep the animal and people safe.”

Ms Bean said patchy or different coloured fur was also completely normal for seals at this time of year and was nothing to worry about.

“April is moulting time and seals may rest for longer periods on shore when shedding their old fur and replacing it with a shiny, new coat,” she said.

“It’s also quite normal for a seal to hold a flipper in the air while on land or swimming.”

She said this was a natural behaviour that seals used to keep cool, not a sign that they were in distress.

Ms Bean said people could call NPWS on 1300 072 757 to report hauled out or injured seals.

Further information on seal behaviour and approach distances can be found at this PS News link.

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