Don’t be seal-y around seals

Issued: 15 Jul 2022

Seals have been sighted off the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.Open larger image

Seals have been sighted off the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

Two seals that have been frolicking in the surf on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast could stay in the area for weeks, and locals are advised to give them space.

Frank Mills Manager of Southern Wildlife Operations said the Department of Environment and Science (DES) was working with local councils to keep them safe.

“We have received several reports, including photos and videos of the seals from members of the public,” Mr Mills said.

“We do get seals in waters off Queensland, particularly in winter and they can travel as far north as the Great Sandy Marine Park.

“A juvenile New Zealand fur seal has been hanging around the Sunshine Coast, and people were concerned that it had an eye injury.

“A Sea Life Aquarium Manager has observed the seal and determined it is in good health with good body condition, and is not under duress as the injury is not recent.

“On the Gold Coast, another juvenile fur seal has been seen in the ocean near Coolangatta.

“The seal was sticking its flippers out of the water and people were concerned it was ill or injured, but that is how seals regulate their temperature.

“Seeing seals in the wild like this can be exciting, because they always look like they’re having fun in the waves or on the beach.”

Under the Nature Conservation Act, people must not get within 40 metres of a seal when it is on the beach.

“Seals come ashore to rest and recover from their swim, and people are asked not to approach them and keep their dogs on a leash,” Mr Mills said.

“Seals can move quickly over short distances on land and may become aggressive if they feel threatened.

“They also carry diseases that can be passed on to people, so keep your distance and if you believe the animal is sick or injured, call the DES Hotline 1300 130 372 for assistance.

“In most cases, the seals will depart the beach of their own accord and head back into the water.

“There are penalties for people who approach seals on land, and anyone who tries to get close to them risks being bitten and they could get a fine of up to $17,250.”

Seal species seen in Queensland:

  • Subantarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis)
  • New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri)
  • Australian fur seal (Arctocephalus pusillus)
  • Leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx).