- Wednesday, 4 January 2023 at 10:15 pm
The Conservation Regulator is urging coastal visitors to curb their curiosity and keep their distance from seals as the warmer weather draws more than just human visitors to the seaside this summer.
With a variety of seals, including leopard, elephant and fur, currently resting and sunning themselves in pockets along the Victorian coast, the public is being reminded to obey the rules for their safety and the welfare of the animals.
A leopard seal is currently resting at the Rye Ocean Beach on the Mornington Peninsula and in Portland, an elephant seal is basking and swimming in the canal.
Authorised Officers are working with other relevant authorities, including Zoos Victoria’s Marine Response Unit (MRU), to monitor the welfare and movements of these seals.
The Conservation Regulator has also received several reports from the community about an entangled fur seal near Apollo Bay, and we are assisting the MRU with a plan to remove it.
Officers will also patrol known seal locations and can hand out on-the-spot fines of $277 to anyone caught getting too close to the native species.
On land, people must maintain a minimum distance of 30 metres between themselves and the seal. This increases to 50 metres if they are walking their dog.
In the ocean, swimmers and surfers must stay at least 5 metres away, boats must keep at least 30 meters away and jet skis 50 metres away.
Seals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975(opens in a new window) and the Wildlife (Marine Mammal) Regulations 2019(opens in a new window), and people who ignore the minimum distances can face penalties up to $3,698 if taken to court. It is also illegal to feed marine mammals, including fish scraps, and carries the same maximum penalty.
If you see a sick, injured, or distressed seal, please call the Marine Response Unit on 1300 245 678(opens in a new window) or the Conservation Regulator on 136 186.
If you witness people or dogs getting too close to seals, please report any information to Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000(opens in a new window).
For more info on staying safe around marine mammals, visit Whales, dolphins and seals(opens in a new window).