Australia Seal season's a busy time for rescue groups, but not all washed-up pups are in need

01:27  18 june  2021
01:27  18 june  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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It is seal season along the coasts of south-east South Australia and western Victoria, a time of year when juvenile seals head to shore as their mothers hunt.

It means more seal sightings and therefore one of the busiest times of the year for the Australian Marine Wildlife Research and Rescue Organisation (AMWRRO).

Founder Aaron Machado is asking for beach-lovers to take care.

"At the Coorong we've already had one tragedy where a fisherman has been fishing most of the day, next to a seal … and then a four-wheel drive doing great speeds over 60kph ran straight over the top of it," he said.

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"That's unfortunately going to happen where you have vehicles on beaches and critters who come ashore looking like a bit of seaweed."

A not-for-profit based in Adelaide, the conservation and rescue organisation is open 24/7.

But Mr Machado is stressing the importance of learning when an animal is — or is not — in need of rescue or assistance.

"We've had probably in excess of 1,000, 1,200 phone calls for the past three weeks," he said.

"A lot of people may live in areas where they haven't seen a seal on the beach before ... but because you may not have seen it in the past, it doesn't mean it's not supposed to be there."

Returning to shore to rest after a few days at sea is completely normal behaviour for the juvenile seals.

They may need help, however, if they have an open wound, are tangled in debris, or skinny enough to see ribs and a dip between the shoulder blades.

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If an animal appears in need, Mr Machado warns people to contact the professionals first, as seals can become aggressive and distressed.

"They could lash out … make a phone call before you interact," he said.

Two main species can be spotted along the coastline — the long-nosed fur seal and the endangered Australian sea lion.

It is an offence to harm or kill either protected animal and could result in a $100,000 fine.

Portland Tourist Association president Dennis Carr said now was the time to spot seal pups from a safe distance along the beach at Cape Bridgewater.

"They're running along the foreshore there in the late afternoons … usually around 3:00pm or 4:00pm," he said.

"They come in with the waves and play around and surf the waves.

"Just remember there are reasons for the rules; it's to protect our seals and all our fish life."

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This is interesting!