Sleeping seal stops traffic on Shelly Bay Road

Don Herron —  30/07/2015

New Zealand fur seal (kekeno) are frequent visitors to coastal parts of Wellington.

Occasionally, they end up in places where shouldn’t be. Like this guy, who was sunning himself and snoozing in the middle of Shelly Bay Road on Tuesday.

The Shelly Bay New Zealand fur seal. Photo: Don Herron | DOC.

Who me?!

DOC takes a “minimum intervention” approach to kekeno. Seals are resilient and usually best left to themselves. Unless a fur seal is in obvious trouble, we leave management to the original expert – nature.

In this case though, a fur seal having a nap on a busy road is a recipe for trouble. So DOC rangers Pete Blaxter and Kieran Brocklehurst, headed out to help.

DOC rangers Pete Blaxter (front) and Kieran Brocklehurst (behind) approach sleeping seal. Photo: Don Herron | DOC.

Rangers Pete Blaxter (front) and Kieran Brocklehurst (behind) approach seal

“This time of year kekeno just want to have a rest. The ocean can have large swells and lots of wind, while the road is warm, dry and in the sun, ” explains Peter Blaxter.

Generally, we move seals with a large net. We put them in the back of a DOC ute and release them in a quieter place.

Pete Blaxter snares seal in net. Photo: Don Herron.

Pete Blaxter snares seal

Our Shelly Bay Road sunbather was chauffeured to nearby Taputeranga Marine Reserve.

Police officer Will Buchanan watches as Pete and Kieran move the seal into the back of the DOC ute. Photo: Don Herron.

Police officer Will Buchanan watches as Pete and Kieran carefully move seal

Police officer Will Buchanan was there to keep an eye on the seal, traffic management and spectators. He said the removal of the seal was “quick, straight forward and professionally done”.

The Department of Conservation is responsible for all marine mammals in New Zealand. If you see an injured seal – or one that is in danger of being harmed or causing harm – call the DOC hotline 0800 362 468.

Don Herron


Don works in the Poneke/Wellington Department of Conservation Visitor Centre in Wellington city. Don loves tramping, riding his mountain bike, travelling and planting natives in his garden at home.