Posted on 06/10/2016 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Breeding season arrives for Phillip Island’s seal colony

November heralds the start of the breeding season for Australian fur seals on Seal Rocks and throughout Bass Strait. This also means that last year’s pups are being weaned before the new arrivals, so between October and December young seals start having to fend for themselves.

The young seals quickly learn to fish and navigate in the ocean during this time, while avoiding predators such as great white sharks. This is also the time that we may expect to see young seals coming ashore on our beaches to rest, moving between land and water of their own accord. Other species of seal such as Long-nosed fur seals, Leopard seals, Sub-Antarctic fur seals and Elephant seals may also visit the area.

The nearby Seal Rocks is home to a healthy population of an estimated 30,000 seals. Up to 6,700 pups are born each breeding season and it is natural that not all of these pups will survive after weaning. Because the population is healthy, rehabilitation of compromised individuals is not needed to protect the species.

What to do if you see a seal on the beach:

• Leave it alone and maintain a distance of least 30 metres to allow the seal to rest
• Keep dogs restrained and away from the seal to avoid frightening or injuring it
• Do not feed the seal as it may become habituated to humans and unable to fend for itself in the wild
• Do not attempt to move the seal back into the water or throw water over it – they can self-regulate their body temperature

The Australian fur seal is a wonderful example of a mammal that has recovered from near extinction. We share our beaches with the seals and it can be a really positive experience to see these wild animals in our local environment. If you see a seal, consider the animal and keep your distance to allow it to rest peacefully.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria are responsible for the welfare of Victorian wildlife, including hauled-out seals. Report any injured seals, or seals entangled in rubbish to DELWP on 136 186 or Phillip Island Nature Parks on 5951 2800.