Seals were once hunted to the brink of extinction in New Zealand. Now they’re protected and can be seen in increasing numbers along our coastline.
Over the years, Project Jonah has helped the Department of Conservation attend to sick, injured or entangled seals. Often, seals that are thought to be sick or injured are actually healthy and exhibiting normal behaviour. An important part of our work is to help people understand the unusual quirks and habits of seals, so they can identify when a seal really is in trouble. To find out more click here
As with all wild animals, seals need to be respected and given their space. We encourage you to enjoy seals, but to do so safely and at a distance.
Simple rules for observing seals
- Don’t disturb seals, make loud noises or throw things near them
- Keep dogs and small children well away
- Keep a safe distance at all times; don’t get closer than 20 metres
- Don’t get between a seal and its escape route to the sea
- Look but don’t touch. Seals carry infectious diseases and their teeth can inflict serious injuries
It is quite natural for seals to spend days on shore. A seal that is lying on a beach is not necessarily in distress and is best left alone unless it bears some evidence of illness or injury.
If the animal is being harassed, is entangled in marine debris or has obvious injuries, call either the Department of Conservation hotline on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 368 468) or the Project Jonah hotline on 0800 4 WHALE (0800 4 94253) immediately.