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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Look out when seals haul out

Resting seals may soon be seen by school holiday makers along Illawarra’s beaches, but authorities are warning beach goers to give them some space.

Jen Bean from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said this time of year fur seals are often seen hauling out on beaches and rocky ledges. 'We're lucky to see both Australian and New Zealand fur seals in our waters and from time to time they haul out to rest and digest belly full of fish,' Ms Bean said. '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. 'Patchy or different coloured fur is completely normal during this time and is nothing to worry about. 'It's also quite normal for a seal to hold a flipper in the air while on land or swimming. It's a natural behaviour they use to keep cool, not a sign they are in distress. '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. 'Even though he is a regular sight on the shoreline, it is extremely important that people give all seals space. 'Seals can become very aggressive when frightened or provoked. They can bite and charge at people and dogs if threatened. 'People must stay at least 40 metres away from an adult seal, for their own safety and the safety of the seal. Dogs much be controlled on a lead. 'Seals often also fight with each other over territory or a mate resulting in minor cuts or bites that normally heal quickly without interference. 'Animals with minor wounds are monitored by NPWS and generally left alone unless their condition worsens. 'People can help us to protect seals by reporting sightings to NPWS. 'In most cases we will monitor the animal and set up temporary barriers and signs around to help keep the animal and people safe,' said Ms Bean.

Australian fur seals, Montague Island Nature Reserve. Photo: OEH

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