Watch out for seals, Bellarine Bayside urges
BREEDING season has arrived for Port Phillip Bay’s seal population, and Bellarine Bayside has reminded people to stay well away.
The committee of management in charge of 17km of coastal Crown land on the northern Bellarine Peninsula has already noticed a few young seals visiting its beaches for a rest as they learn to navigate and hunt in the bay.
“While they look cute and furry, seals are wild animals and it is important to keep your distance for your safety and the well-being of the seal,” Bellarine Bayside posted on its Facebook page.
People are being advised to keep an eye out when walking on the beaches.
Bellarine Bayside has reminded beach users of the rules that apply if they encounter a seal:
- People must stay 30 metres away from seals on beaches and 5 metres away from seals on man-made structures such as boat ramps or piers
- Dogs are not permitted within 50 metres of a seal
- Do not feed seals, and
- Follow all guidance on any nearby signs.
A resting seal can look injured and sometimes will not move when people approach. If you are sure that one is injured, phone Wildlife Victoria on 03 8400 7300.
Seals have occasionally left the beach and travelled further inland.
In January of this year, a large southern elephant seal drew crowds and was briefly a media sensation when it made its way across roads in Point Lonsdale and smashed a window at a service station, but was eventually coaxed back into the water.
What was believed to be the same animal was spotted on the other side of Port Phillip Bay in Blairgowrie five days later, which forced officers from the Conservation Regulator to close that beach.
Seals, like all wildlife, are protected in Victoria under the Wildlife Act 1975 and specific protections are set out in the Wildlife (Marine Mammal) Regulations 2019.
It is an offence to wilfully injure, disturb, chase or herd protected wildlife, carrying a fine of up to $3,698. It is also illegal to feed marine mammals, including fish scraps, and carries the same maximum penalty.
Anyone who witnesses people getting too close to seals can report incidents to the Conservation Regulator on 136 186.