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Seal Rescue & Rehabilitation

Each winter juvenile New Zealand fur seals (long-nosed fur seals), Arctocephalus forsteri, are found ashore, in poor condition, along the South East Queensland and northern New South Wales coast. This has been the busiest seal rescue season on record for the Sea World Rescue team. We have admitted 14 seals found between northern New South Wales and the Sunshine Coast since early June.

WHY ARE THEY HERE?

Their inexperience, coupled with extreme weather conditions and the northward current along east coast beaches, are believed to have caused them to stray this far north, well outside the normal range for this species.

New Zealand fur seals are marine mammals that normally live in the coastal waters of New Zealand and along the south coast of Australia from southwest Western Australia to South Australia. There are also small populations in Victorian and southern New South Wales coastal waters.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A SEAL ASHORE?

  • Do not approach or try to touch the animal
  • Stay a safe distance away and advise other people to do the same
  • Call the state government wildlife agency or local animal rescue organisation:
    • New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service
    • Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service
    • Queensland Department of Environment & Heritage Protection
    • Sea World
    • Organisation for the Rescue & Research of Cetaceans in Australia
    • RSPCA

WHEN DO WE INTERVENE?

Seals found ashore are often reported directly to Sea World. We gather as much information as possible about the animal’s condition, including descriptions and photos. We work with government agencies to decide if the animal is in need of further assessment and rehabilitation. If so, we will attempt to rescue the animal and bring it to Sea World’s Veterinary Quarantine Centre.

REHABILITATION PROCESS

Once at Sea World the animals receive veterinary care and treatment, in our Veterinary Quarantine Centre. Some animals arrived in very poor condition and unfortunately did not survive given the injuries they had sustained.

After weeks of dedicated care the rescued seals have moved to Seal Rescue & Rehabilitation where they have access to larger and deeper pools. This area will enable them to build their strength to be able to survive in the wild.

It is our hope that they can be released in southern New South Wales, subject to approval from the New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service. To gauge the success of their rehabilitation, we are currently investigating options for post-release monitoring of each animal.