Our fur seal friend returning to the sea. Photo by ODT.
Mystery continues to surround a New Zealand fur seal
which surfaced in suburban Dunedin on Monday.
It appears the adult male may have landed in the upper
harbour and then spent about 12 hours visiting properties in
residential Andersons Bay early on Monday.
It was eventually netted by Department of Conservation staff
in the backyard of 26a Gresham St and released at Tomahawk
Beach shortly after 2pm on Monday.
New Zealand Post shift worker Nicki Templeton spotted the
150kg seal in Silverton St, just a few hundred metres from
Andersons Bay Inlet, at 3am on Monday on her way to work.
''I thought some drunk hoon had dragged a rubbish bag out on
to the middle of the road, until it sat up and lunged at the
car as I drove past. The police were rung and notified at
that stage,'' she said yesterday.
''At 4am, I spoke to a courier that also lives on Silverton
St, as she arrived at work, and she said it was still in the
middle of the road, but had moved up to the top of the
''From the general direction of travel, it has probably come
up the harbour and crossed Bayfield Park, before it set off
up the hill,'' Ms Templeton said.
''From when I first spotted it, it has spent nearly 12 hours
taking a tiki tour of the suburbs, before getting back to
Dunedin police were advised of the seal's presence at a bad
time, Senior Sergeant Kelvin Lloyd said yesterday.
''It was good call by the person to contact us. But, at that
time, we were dealing with offenders involved in a smash and
grab. The seal didn't require an immediate response, but it
was good for us to know about it,'' he said.
Police were obliged to turn up if there was danger, ''but in
a case like this, we take our lead from Doc''.
Doc coastal ranger Jim Fyfe said it was the largest seal he
had seen in a suburban environment.
''It doesn't surprise me if he came from the upper harbour.
They'll often go under the wharf piles. But what's motivated
him to climb a big hill like Silverton St is beyond me. It's
a bit of a hill for a seal.
"Perhaps he's got a smell of good ocean water on the other
side and thought it was a short-cut.''
With it being the breeding season, the seal's visit was a
good reminder to treat sea mammals with respect and give them
space, Mr Fyfe said.
''It's their home and their habitat and we should impact on
wildlife as little as we can. We're also very keen to hear
about any sea lion pups being born. They're a nationally
critical species and they're being born around our city
beaches at the moment.''
New Zealand fur seals and sea lions are protected under the
1978 Marine Mammals Protection Act.
Anyone who discovers a sea mammal in distress, or out of its
natural environment, is asked to contact Doc at 0800 DOC HOT