The sighting of an elephant seal on Waikuku Beach last weekend was a treat, because it is uncommon for the species to come so far up the coast.
Department of Conservation ranger Cody Frewin said elephant seals were normally found in the Southern Ocean, around the sub-Antarctic continent, so it's unusual to see them in North Canterbury.
"Just remember to treat it the same as you would any seal.
"It's fine to take photos, but keep a good 10 metres away; make sure dogs are on leads and children are under control.
"These animals look big and lumbering, but they can move quite fast - surprisingly quickly for their size, in fact."
She said members of the public phoned DOC occasionally to report seals on beaches.
"The thing is, seals are supposed to be on the beach - it's what they do.
"We have a broadly non- intervention policy and will only intervene if the animal has been severely injured, is being harassed by people, or is in danger of being run over."
DOC is always available in case of a wildlife emergency on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
- (Live Matches)