‘Keep clear’ warning as seals settle in at Portland

RESTRICTIVE fencing has been set up at Portland’s foreshore to protect people and seals from each other.

It is illegal to touch or feed the visiting seals, which are becoming more common on rocky areas and beaches along parts of the south-west coast.

Glenelg Shire Council is working with the Department of Environment and Primary Industry to avoid seal attacks on humans and shark presence near the shore, both caused by seal presence on the coastline.

Seals can also quickly become dependent and feeding fish scraps to seals at boat ramps can result in euthanising the animal.

Shire mayor John Northcott said if people came across a seal on land, there were some rules to ensure personal safety and minimise impact on the animal.

“Do not approach within 30 metres of a seal on land, whether you are also on land or in the water,” he said.

“Do not approach within five metres of a seal on a boat ramp, pier or other man-made structure.”

Dogs are also not permitted within 50 metres of a seal on land.

Cr Northcott said seals could sometimes look injured but did not need human help.

“Seals often lie on beaches or other areas to rest or moult and this is normal. They can also secrete a watery substance from their eyes which is often mistaken for crying or an injury, but it is a natural mechanism to protect their eyes.

“Seals are regularly bitten or scratched by other seals and such wounds heal quickly and don’t need human help.”

Licensed tour operators are permitted to approach closer than distances detailed above, subject to a range of other operating conditions.

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