Residents of Melbourne’s Brighton beach were astonished to discover a leopard seal basking on the shoreline yesterday. It follows a string of similar incidents in Sydney and Tasmania. Needless to say, attempting to approach these large predators can be dangerous – but did you know it’s also illegal? Apparently, it’s an offence to be within a whopping 30 metres of all seal species.
In the wake of yesterday’s Brighton beach seal sighting, Victorian Police issued a stern tweet reminding citizens that they’re not allowed to go anywhere near a seal on land:
Police were alerted to a slumbering seal at Brighton Beach this morning. The snoozing sea beast doesn't appear to be in any distress but beware, it's an offence for people to go within 30m of a seal on land or to let a dog under your control go within 50m. pic.twitter.com/F7Zi8TVXE5
— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) August 28, 2018
Police were alerted to a slumbering seal at Brighton Beach this morning. The snoozing sea beast doesn’t appear to be in any distress but beware, it’s an offence for people to go within 30m of a seal on land or to let a dog under your control go within 50m.
While most people realise you’re not supposed to mess with native wild life, the particulars of this law aren’t very well known. Indeed, several Twitter users accused the police of pointless regulation and cynical revenue raising. Others saw the funny side:
"What are you in for?"
"Crowding a sea lion"
— Household Dog (@householddog) August 29, 2018
If you’re curious, here are the rules that Victoria Police was citing as they appear on the government’s Our Wildlife page:
- Do not approach within 30 metres of a seal on land, whether you are also on land or in the water.
- Dogs are not permitted within 50 metres of a seal on land.
- Do not approach within 5 metres of a seal on a boat ramp, pier or other man-made structure.
- Dogs must not enter the water within 150 metres of a dolphin, 300 metres of a whale or 50 metres of a seal.
- It is illegal to touch or feed a seal.
Personally, I think 30 metres is perhaps a little excessive. That means that the untold millions of people who walked past the famous #SydneySeal at Circular Quay were technically breaking the law.
It also means you need a telescopic lens if you want to take close-up shots of seals at the beach. (Photog-cum-pervs have just been handed the perfect excuse for their dubious equipment. Tch.)