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Seal bites woman

PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

GIANINA SCHWANECKE

Visitors to the coast are being reminded to be wary of seals concealed behind rocks after a woman was bitten at Castlepoint.

The woman was treated for the seal bite at Wairarapa Hospital on Sunday, and it is understood she was discharged the following day.

On Tuesday, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed a Hamilton woman been bitten by a seal but would not elaborate on the extent of the injuries.

Department of Conservation Ranger Jim Flack was assisting with the Castlepoint dunes restoration project over the weekend but hadn’t heard about the incident.

“We saw a seal at the bottom of Castle Rock just hanging out at the beach down the far end.”

He said he had not heard of any incidents in the region but urged coastal visitors to be cautious.

“Seals are wild animals and we encourage people to give them a wide berth – don’t approach any closer than 20-30m.

“Don’t get in between them and the sea because that’s where they feel comfortable and are at their fastest.

“They’re very fast and unpredictable.”

The Wairarapa seal population has grown steadily since the 1990s and animals are known to pop up around Castlepoint.

A well-known seal colony at Cape Palliser often attracts out-of-town visitors, though there are also seal haul-outs in one or two places, including White Rock, Te Awaiti and Castlepoint.

“When you’re walking around the rocks at the coast it pays to be aware that there might be a seal around the next rock.”

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