Several seal species including Australian sea lions, New Zealand fur seals and sub-Antarctic fur seals will be resting on beaches or swimming close to shores in the Perth metro area and south-west regions in the coming weeks.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife has recently received numerous reports of sightings of seals on beaches and is reminding people not to get too close or interfere with the seals in any way.
Wildlife officer Cameron Craigie said people often mistake young seals and sea lions that are resting as sick or abandoned pups and attempt to `rescue’ them.
“Such intervention can cause these animals to become highly stressed, and can lead to a deterioration in health, while feeding them inappropriate foods can cause sickness and in some cases death – the best thing people can is leave seals undisturbed.”
Mr Craigie said seals frequently came ashore for significant periods of time to rest, and while it may look like they are sick or injured, this was a natural behaviour.
“When they haul out on beaches, they are not stranded and do not require assistance and are quite capable of returning to the ocean when they are ready,” he said.
“Some sea lions can weigh up to 200kg and have large canine teeth, and if disturbed, they can become aggressive and can inflict a nasty bite.
“As such members of the public are encouraged to view any seals or sea lions they encounter from a safe distance and prevent their pet dogs from disturbing the animals.”
Australian sea lions are the rarest sea lions in the world and are specially protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. Adult male and sub-adult male sea lions spend time in resting areas offshore from Perth to build up their body condition in readiness for the breeding season on islands in the Jurien Bay area and the Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton.
Anyone seeing a seal with obvious and significant body injuries can report it to the department’s Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife protects and conserves the State’s natural environment on behalf of the people of Western Australia.
The department was established on 1 July 2013, when the former Department of Environment and Conservation was split into the Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Enviroment Regulation, and is in the portfolio of the Minister for Environment.