Pup makes most of the ‘silly seal season’

    This seal pup was found on an Invercargill road on Monday morning.

    A BIT bizarre and more than a little cute, a visiting seal pup broke one Invercargill family’s bubble on Monday.

    The first question they had: how did it get there?

    Oteramika Rd resident Mark Ritchie explained the Jack Russell terrier-sized pup had been shooed from the road in the morning, ending up in their garden hedge.

    He believed it could have been separated from its mother closer to Oreti Beach or New River Estuary, but had swum the wrong way up the Otepuni Creek, some 500m away from them.

    “He looks pretty hungry. He’s got plenty of energy though.”

    Safe and bundled in a box, the question turned to what they could do for the young animal.

    Mr Ritchie had been told by the man who got the seal off the road the Department of Conservation (Doc) had been called, but by 1.30pm no help had arrived.

    So he got in touch with Doc when it was explained there was no contact information for him and staff had been unable to follow up.

    Mr Ritchie’s daughter, Lexie (17), did not believe her mother when she came into her bedroom to tell her the odd news.

    “It’s not something you see every day,” she said.

    She wondered if someone could have picked the pup up and dropped it there.

    However, it was not the first time a juvenile seal had popped up in an unexpected place without its mother.

    Information on the Doc website explains seals (kekeno) are most often found on rocky shores but since they are curious and exploratory by nature, can be seen all around the coast in unusual places.

    They occasionally travel up rivers as far as 15km inland.

    “Although very charismatic, kekeno are wild animals and should be treated with respect,” the website says.

    After making contact with Doc, Mr Ritchie followed its advice and let the pup loose in Bluff.

    “He should be all right, they reckon.”

    Doc biodiversity senior ranger Ros Cole said this time of year was known as “silly seal season”.

    “It’s not uncommon to see juvenile seals showing up in all manner of strange places, even inland up rivers, as they find their way in the world. Locally, this is the second such call this week.”

    It was normal behaviour and Doc only intervened when an animal was in obvious danger, she said.

    People could phone Doc’s emergency hotline on 0800 DOC HOT.