With several recent sightings of seals and sea lions on local jetties and beaches, curious onlookers are being reminded to give the resting animals a wide berth.
When seals and sea lions come ashore, it is their time to rest after being out at sea hunting and feeding, often for several days. Their bellies are full and they just want to take a peaceful nap to recharge.
National Parks and Wildlife SA Senior Ranger Lana Roediger said that this winter, National Parks and Wildlife Service received several reports of long-nosed fur seals at Tumby Bay, Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay jetties, and an Australian sea lion was found exploring roads near Farm Beach and Coffin Bay.
“Long nosed fur seal pups have recently been weaned from their mums, the pups are beginning to leave their island breeding grounds to forage and explore for themselves,” she said.
“Sometimes they move into coastal waters for shelter from winter fronts or get disoriented and use local beaches and structures to rest.
“National Parks and Wildlife Service have also received reports of seal species that rarely visit our shores. Sub-Antarctic fur seals have been seen across the Eyre Peninsula, and an Antarctic Leopard seal had hauled out at Fisheries Bay.”
“When seals and sea lions come ashore it is important to understand that they are tired and are there to rest.
“These animals spend many hours foraging for food out at sea and expend a lot of energy, leaving them exhausted.
“If you see them on a beach, please respect them and keep a safe distance to keep both yourself and the animal safe.
Marine Mammal Regulations are in place to protect these animals from disturbance and also to prevent humans from being harmed by sometimes scared and aggressive animals.
People are requested to not approach the animals and admire them from a safe distance of 30 metres where possible.
If viewing marine mammals from a boat, vessels must not approach within 50 metres or anchor within 150m of a seal or sea lion.
If a marine mammal appears to be unwell, distressed, stranded or disturbed, phone NPWS Duty Officer on 8688 3223.
For further information regarding Marine Mammal Regulations, visit www.environment.sa.gov.au or contact the Port Lincoln National Parks and Wildlife Service office 86 883 111.