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Seals rest up on local beaches

Leopard seal at a Rockingham beach
Leopard seal at a Rockingham beach Cameron Craigie, Parks and Wildlife

The Department of Parks and Wildlife is reminding people that seals resting on beaches should be left undisturbed, following numerous recent sightings of seals on the Perth and south-west coast.

Wildlife officer Cameron Craigie said it was common for species including the leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx), sub-Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis) and New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) to come ashore during winter fronts. Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) also haul up on Carnac Island.

“These seals haul up on beaches to rest – they are not ‘stranded’ and don’t require assistance from people,” Mr Craigie said.

“Generally they just need to be left alone to rest and will return to the ocean when they are ready.

“Members of the public are encouraged to leave these animals alone, keep dogs away (when on dog beaches) and stay a safe distance from the seal.

“If left alone these animals are generally not aggressive, but if they feel threatened or distressed they may inflict a nasty bite.”

Mr Craigie said some seals seen on metropolitan beaches recently were juveniles or sub-adults with poor body condition.

“Human intervention with these animals causes a high level of stress, which may result in a further deterioration of their health and even cause death,” he said.

“In the majority of cases, the best thing for the seal is to be left undisturbed.”

People may also notice seals and sea lions spinning or twisting around in the water and sticking their flippers in the air.

“This is a natural behaviour known as thermo-regulating where by the seal is controlling its body temperature by exposing different parts to the sun and sticking flippers in and out of the water,” Mr Craigie said.  

If people see a seal with obvious body injuries they can report it to the department’s Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

Media contact: Parks and Wildlife Media 9219 9999