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Fur seal spotted too close to Otago cycleway entrance

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Feb 2023, 10:54am
The fur seal spotted on the Harbour Cycleway yesterday morning. Photo / Supplied
The fur seal spotted on the Harbour Cycleway yesterday morning. Photo / Supplied

Fur seal spotted too close to Otago cycleway entrance

Author
Otago Daily Times,
Publish Date
Tue, 28 Feb 2023, 10:54am

Cyclists face many obstacles every day on the road but they do not usually include marine mammals.

A fur seal was spotted 100m north of the Maia entrance to the Otago Harbour Cycleway yesterday morning by a member of the public.

The fur seal had emerged from the lagoon and on to the shore to rest.

The member of the public said they were amazed at how far the seal had travelled but were also concerned for its wellbeing.

They promptly called the Department of Conservation.

Coastal Biodiveristy Otago ranger Jim Fyfe said curious fur seals and sea lions regularly turned up in unusual places.

The fur seal spotted on the Harbour Cycleway yesterday morning. Photo / Supplied

The fur seal spotted on the Harbour Cycleway yesterday morning. Photo / Supplied

It was not unusual for seals to come up and lie across the 1-2m verge between the harbour and the road as “their habitat overlaps with ours”.

But it was not common for a seal to go up behind the fence and wander 500m on to the cycleway, he said.

The fence between the railway and the cycleway would have stopped the seal from returning to the water once it had made it to the road, he said.

“It probably kept on wandering along looking for a gap in the barrier to get down to the water again, it had quite a fair way to go in either direction.”

While fur seals were not overtly aggressive, people should still be cautious around one, he said.

 “They’re a lot more flighty than sea-lions so they get scared and scared animals are probably the most dangerous animal if they feel like they’re cornered.

“If the animal is sleeping and it’s to one side you can probably sneak past quietly and be fine, but if it’s awake and feeling threatened then read those signals and it’s probably a good idea to dismount from your bike and just walk.”

Cyclists should distance themselves as much as possible from the seal and place their bike between them should it lunge.

By: Tim Scott - PIJF cadet reporter, Otago Daily Times

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