Basil the Seal

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Basil the Seal

Adventurous young pup takes time out for farm visit

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A Wanganui woman thought she was seeing things recently when she came across a “fishy” customer frolicking in a freshwater pond on farmland behind her house. The "fishy" visitor relaxing in the pond usually reserved for ducks and fish.

Wendy Pearce of Ashley Park, Waitotara, about half an hour north of Wanganui, said she got a huge surprise to find a six-month-old fur seal pup splashing in the neighbouring farm pond usually reserved for ducks and fish - and at least 10km by water from the nearest beach.

“I noticed it when I went out one morning and did not know if I was seeing things at first,” she said. “It’s pretty amazing really. It must have come quite a distance because it would have had to cross quite a bit of land to get here – but looked quite happy just frolicking in the water.”

Not sure what to do about her slippery visitor, Wendy promptly phoned DOC Wanganui’s biodiversity specialist Jim Campbell, who ventured forth to check on the playful pup.

Despite the distance it had travelled, Jim said the pup looked to be in good health and had probably been left behind by its mother while she travelled south to the breeding rookeries.
While it was normal for freshly-weaned pups to travel ashore at this time of year, he said it was unusual for them to travel so far and it was possible the young adventurer was lost.

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“Like most young animals, the pups are learning life skills and their curiosity leads them to

explore rivers, drains and even the odd goldfish pond near the beach. They can also get tired easily in heavy seas and will look to come ashore and rest.”

After two to three weeks living it up in the pond the hungry pup had run out of fish. Bryan Williams was on hand to give him a free ride to the local fur seal rookery.

Seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act. This means it is illegal to catch, kill, injure or harass them, with fines of up to $10,000 for those who flout the law.

Article source: Department of Conservation,
Story by Ross Henderson

SH3, Waitotara, New Zealand (15 mins North of Wanganui)
Ph 06 346 5917, fax 06 346 5861, Email: