A seal takes a rest at a Riversdale Beach building site. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

EMMA BROWN
emma.brown@age.co.nz

A Riversdale resident had a unique neighbour for a couple of days this week after a young seal decided a pile of dirt at a building site along Riversdale Rd was a good place to have a rest.

Children on a school bus were first to see the tired seal after their transport had to drive around it on Monday morning, when it was having a rest on the road.

Later that evening, Riversdale resident Amanda Peake saw that the seal had taken up residence on top of a pile of dirt at the building site next door.

After getting home on Tuesday, she decided to call Department of Conservation as it had not moved.

“It just didn’t look like it was going to move anywhere.

“It deserved a chance of life back in the sea.”

She said it would have been a long way back to the sea, as it had travelled about 400m to its perch on the dirt.

DOC told her that if it was still there in the morning, they would send out some rangers.

On Wednesday afternoon two Wairarapa DOC rangers arrived with a large carry cage.

With the help of Peake and a couple of the builders on site, they got the seal into the carry cage and transported it back to a quiet spot on the beach, above the high tide mark, to give it the best chance of making it back into the ocean when it had recovered.

Wairarapa DOC ranger Henry Campbell said the juvenile seal was about one metre long and looked like it was resting up after a stormy week or two at sea.

“It’s not uncommon for young seals to get exhausted in stormy seas and come ashore to recover and regain their strength.

“It’s less common to do this on a residential section.”

Seals often found their way back to the sea and were pretty resilient, but they were wild animals and it was best to stay at least 20 metres away, he said.

DOC becomes involved, and should be called if there is a potential risk to the seal, such as being harassed by dogs.

“We’d like to thank the locals for looking out for the seal,” Campbell said.

“They were a huge help in getting the seal loaded into the carry cage with a minimum of fuss.

“We really appreciated the call and all the help.”

If people are unsure about the safety of a seal, they can get advice from the DOC hotline – 0800 362 468.