MANY started this year with a visit to the beach, including this seal spotted by photographer Ben Steadman at Clayton Beach in Mindarie on Tuesday.
“We don’t know if the seal was injured or chased to the shore by a shark or not – the seal managed to return to the waters and swam north along the coastline," he said.
A Department of Environment and Conservation spokeswoman said there had been no reports of seals in the area, but it did appear to be a New Zealand fur seal in poor condition.
“It is probably an old animal,” she said.
The spokeswoman said people should report sick or injured animals, but not approach them on beaches.
“We ask people encountering seals on the beach to refrain from pouring water on them,
pushing them out to sea or attempting to rescue them,” she said.
“If they are seen basking in the sun or swimming in the shallows, it is vital that |they are left in peace because they need to recuperate.
“If they are harassed they may become distressed and leave the area.
“Sub-Antarctic seals in particular are not accustomed to people and they may react aggressively when approached.
“They can inflict a nasty bite similar to that of a large dog and this is another reason why it is important to keep a safe distance from them – at least five to 10m.”
To report any sick or injured animals, call the DEC’s Wildcare helpline on 9474 9055.