Stand up paddleboarder Zane Blomfield was "spooked" when something moved underwater towards him on the Orewa Estuary at twilight on Sunday.
It was a 1.5 metre seal, which followed him to the Orewa bridge, diving under his board and splashing around him. Perhaps the seal thought wetsuit clad Zane was one of its kind.
"I wondered if it was lost as I saw it further up past Orewa College," Zane says.
He laments that although he usually carries a camera he didn't this time.
"I will from now on."
With darkness falling, Zane sat on his board under the Hibiscus Coast Highway bridge and watched the seal, but it headed back up the estuary.
Coincidentally, Zane's daughter Jordan, 17, saw the seal in the estuary near Orewa College Tuesday morning. She and other students were warned not to get too close.
Zane says it's good to see the wild life coming back.
He was paddleboarding at Red Beach a few weeks ago and saw dolphins leaping too.
July and August are collectively known as the "hauling out" season as seals, often weaning pups, come ashore to rest. As the weather cools, the seals head north for warmer waters.
Fur seals are often ashore at Muriwai Beach this time of year too.
"I would expect people to start seeing a lot more seals around for the next few months," Department of Conservation Warkworth office biodiversity officer Thelma Wilson says.
"Generally they are fine. If people do come across them on the rocks or beaches, they should try not to disturb them.
"Try not to pass between the seal and the water. They can move surprisingly quickly and if disturbed will usually make a dash for the water."
Dogs should be kept well away, as seals regard them as a threat and dogs have been known to attack seals.
If you find a seal severely injured, entangled in marine debris or being harassed by people or dogs call the DOC hotline 0800 362 468.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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