'Blood everywhere' in seal attack

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 19:05 31/05/2014
New Plymouth seal attack
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ

SEAL ATTACK: The seal which left an elderly man seriously injured after an attack on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway this morning.

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The elderly man attacked by a seal on a New Plymouth walkway today is in a stable condition in hospital.

A trail of blood was left on New Plymouth's Coastal Walkway this morning when the animal lunged at the 85-year-old man, who had been walking near the Belt Road Motor Camp at about 8.15am.

He was left with a serious leg injury and was treated by St John paramedics at the scene.

He was then transported to Taranaki Base Hospital in a serious condition.

Armed police provided a protective barrier while the man was treated.

According to the Department of Conservation an adult female New Zealand fur seal can weigh up to 50kg and a male 150kg.

Eyewitness Kevin Harvey, of New Plymouth, said the seal also lunged at him as he ran past.

He saw people attending a man on the ground and thought it must have been a cyclist who had come off.

''There was blood on the ground everywhere and obviously [the seal] had attacked the walker.''

He threw a few stones at the seal in an attempt to scare it back onto the rocks.

Harvey said he's seen seals on the walkway before.

''They usually come towards you a bit then back off, but he just kept on coming.''

The Department of Conservation recommends the following to ensure your safety around seals:

* Always stay at least 10m away.
* Do not disturb seals. Don't make loud noises or throw objects near them.
* Keep dogs and children under control around seals.
* Never attempt to handle seals as they can be aggressive.
* Do not drive vehicles any closer than 50m from seals.
* Flies are often attracted to the natural secretions around the eyes of seals. This does not mean the seal is sick and is not a cause for concern.
* It is natural for mothers to leave their pups alone while they return to sea to forage. Please do not disturb or move solitary pups.
* If you are concerned about the safety of a seal, please contact the Department of Conservation immediately on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

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- Taranaki Daily News

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