New Zealand fur seal drops by Makorori

An early visitor catches some rays on its annual northward migration.

An early visitor catches some rays on its annual northward migration.

CHILLING OUT: A New Zealand fur seal enjoys the sun and sand as it takes a break on Makorori Beach. Fur seals migrate north in winter and although this one is a little early in the season, it's not unusual to see them on our coast. They mostly inhabit New Zealand, the Chatham Islands, subantarctic islands and parts of Australia. This one was possibly taking a break from the big swell over the weekend. Picture by Liam Clayton

A NEW Zealand fur seal has been spotted taking a much-needed rest on Makorori Beach during its northward migration.

Fur seals (kekeno) migrate to the northern parts of their habitat in winter and many on the East Coast head up to around Te Araroa, often resting on Gisborne’s beaches on the way.

Department of Conservation community engagement supervisor Charles Barrie says while it is a bit early in the season to see fur seals on Gisborne beaches, it is not out of the ordinary.

“This may be due to the stormy weather. They are more common between August and November when they come ashore to rest.”

There are around 200,000 fur seals in and around New Zealand. Before the arrival of humans there were about two million. Their decline was largely due to sealing for meat and pelts.

In 1978 they were fully protected by the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and their numbers have continued to grow since.

Fur seals are distinguished from other seals by their external ear flaps, hind flippers, which allow them to move quickly on land, pointy nose and smaller size.

Their coat is dark grey-brown on the back, lighter below, and when wet they look almost black.

They are very good swimmers and weaned pups will sometimes travel great distances. Some have been recorded travelling to Australia.

While most are found in New Zealand they also inhabit the Chatham Islands, subantarctic islands, and parts of Australia. They can dive to depths of more than 200m, holding their breath for more than 10 minutes.

They feed mainly on squid and small mid-water fish, but also take larger species such as conger eels, barracuda, jack mackerel and hoki, mostly off the continental shelf.

DoC reminds the public to:

  • leave them to rest
  • keep dogs and young children well away
  • avoid getting nearer than 20 metres to the seal
  • not touch the seal
  • not get between the seal and its access to water.

A NEW Zealand fur seal has been spotted taking a much-needed rest on Makorori Beach during its northward migration.

Fur seals (kekeno) migrate to the northern parts of their habitat in winter and many on the East Coast head up to around Te Araroa, often resting on Gisborne’s beaches on the way.

Department of Conservation community engagement supervisor Charles Barrie says while it is a bit early in the season to see fur seals on Gisborne beaches, it is not out of the ordinary.

“This may be due to the stormy weather. They are more common between August and November when they come ashore to rest.”

There are around 200,000 fur seals in and around New Zealand. Before the arrival of humans there were about two million. Their decline was largely due to sealing for meat and pelts.

In 1978 they were fully protected by the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and their numbers have continued to grow since.

Fur seals are distinguished from other seals by their external ear flaps, hind flippers, which allow them to move quickly on land, pointy nose and smaller size.

Their coat is dark grey-brown on the back, lighter below, and when wet they look almost black.

They are very good swimmers and weaned pups will sometimes travel great distances. Some have been recorded travelling to Australia.

While most are found in New Zealand they also inhabit the Chatham Islands, subantarctic islands, and parts of Australia. They can dive to depths of more than 200m, holding their breath for more than 10 minutes.

They feed mainly on squid and small mid-water fish, but also take larger species such as conger eels, barracuda, jack mackerel and hoki, mostly off the continental shelf.

DoC reminds the public to:

  • leave them to rest
  • keep dogs and young children well away
  • avoid getting nearer than 20 metres to the seal
  • not touch the seal
  • not get between the seal and its access to water.

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